Shepherd’s Table Faces Budget Challenges Amid Rising Demand

Shepherd’s Table is several months over budget as they head into the new year due to increased demand.

Haile Gebregziabher, Deputy Executive Director of Shepherd’s Table, reported to WJLA that the nonprofit has provided around 164,000 meals this year, marking a 20% increase from last year.

“We cannot say ‘sorry’ to the people in need,” Gebregziabher said. ‘“We are out of budget, we cannot feed.’ We have to struggle, we have to do whatever we need to do.”

Shepherd’s Table, located in downtown Silver Spring, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and served its two-millionth meal in 2021. The organization has set aside funds from the 2024 budget to cover expenses and is currently seeking additional donations and grants to manage ongoing costs.

“The officials, they do not see it,” Gebregziabher said to WJLA. “We see it day in and day out, this is a big problem.”

Other local nonprofits addressing food insecurity are also facing financial challenges.

Meals on Wheels Takoma Park/Silver Spring reports that Takoma Park’s food insecurity rate has increased by 150%, which is 2.5 times higher than before the pandemic. In Long Branch and Langley Park, the rate is 4.5 times higher, as per the Capital Area Food Bank and analyzed by Crossroads Community Food Network.

The nonprofit helps people in Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Langley Park, Chillum, and Adelphi. They provide important support to neighbors who can’t leave their homes, assisting them in staying healthy and independent at home.

Meals on Wheels can provide up to 10 meals each week to seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems, those with physical challenges, or those recovering from an illness or injury. However, potential program cuts combined with a government shutdown may put people at risk of not receiving their meals.

Clients not only receive necessary food deliveries but also enjoy personal interactions with volunteers and drivers.

“About one-third of our funding comes from government sources and the rest is community support; with the threat of a government shutdown and cuts to nutritional programs like ours, that leaves our neighbors hungry, unserved, and isolated,” said Ruth Masterson, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels Takoma Park/Silver Spring. “As we step up to support our network during an intense funding battle in Congress, we’re extremely worried about our ability to serve: real impact on real people in our community.”

During the spring, policymakers, including a representative from Rep. Jamie Raskin’s office, joined Meals on Wheels to help package and deliver meals, as well as meet with clients. This was done to emphasize the importance of nutritional programs like Meals on Wheels.

Currently, the Takoma Park/Silver Spring location and other Meals on Wheels organizations nationwide are working together to encourage volunteers and the public to contact their congressional representatives to help #SaveLunch.

The #SaveLunch national writing campaign aims to urge key members of Congress to protect funding for senior nutrition programs. The campaign involves writing personal stories and notes on paper plates and will continue until Congress passes an Appropriations bill.

“Anyone who wants to write #SaveLunch along with a personal note on a paper plate and provide them to us is invited to do so — or stop by our kitchen at 7410 New Hampshire Ave. in Takoma Park, where we’ve got a station set up,” said Masterson.

For more information on how to support Shepherd’s Table and Meals on Wheels Takoma Park/Silver Spring, please visit shepherdstable.org and mowtakoma.org.

Shepherd’s Table Graphic

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