St Martin of Tours Food Pantry & The Lord’s Table Soup Kitchen (Gaithersburg, MD)January 23, 2012
An invaluable resource for the community in Montgomery County is the food pantry and soup kitchen located at St Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Gaithersburg. Staffed by a volunteer group of mostly-retired seniors eager to serve their community, the pantry provides packaged goods to needy families and individuals every Monday afternoon. Volunteer coordinator Lois McKearney says no one is ever turned away empty handed. The well-stocked facility receives donations from individual donors as well as supermarkets.
Next door to the pantry, in the lower level of the church, is the location of the soup kitchen. Although this service was originally a controversial idea when its founders established it in the mid-1980s, St Martin’s agreed to host The Lord’s Table, which is in fact a separate organization, and now the kitchen is in operation six days a week for a hot, multi-course, mid-afternoon meal. The busy schedule requires a regular stream of volunteers each day and the successful effort boasts an ecumenical and interfaith set of supporters, both young and old. On the day I visited, there were Lutheran, Unitarian, and Buddhist volunteers, as well as St Martin’s parishoners and a Catholic youth group. In addition to supplying meals, The Lord’s Table provides counseling services and rehabilitation support for drug and alcohol abuse. They are committed to caring for their clients holistically, says Mary Canapary, the project’s director.