What is SPAN?


SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods) is a food pantry and emergency services provider that has been helping families and individuals in Severna Park, Millersville, Arnold, and Broadneck since 1990 with emergency situations such as hunger, utility turn-offs, court-ordered evictions, and prescription/medical needs. SPAN also serves the following secondary areas: Crofton, Crownsville, Odenton, Gambrills, (requires referral Crofton Christian Caring Council), Pasadena and Glen Burnie (requires referral from NCEON), and Linthicum and Severn.

Where is SPAN?


SPAN is in a small yellow house located behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church at 400 Benfield Rd., Severna Park, MD. If you are having trouble locating it, check out this interactive map: Click here for map.

How is SPAN funded?


SPAN is funded through the pledges of its 14 member churches, private donations, business donations, fundraisers, and grants.

How do you know your clients are really in need?


Our interviewers are carefully trained to determine our clients' eligibility for assistance. We require that each client has a current Maryland driver's license or state-issued ID, and that the address on that ID matches the address on the utility shut-off notice or court-ordered eviction. We keep detailed files on every client, and check the files during each visit to ensure that a client is only helped once within a 12-month period. We call the provider to verify the amount of money required for reinstatement of utilities or back rent required to prevent eviction. We pay the provider directly - not the client. If a client owes more than our benefit maximum, we issue a promissory note that they can come back and redeem when they raise the rest of their funds. 

While no system is foolproof against fraud, our philosophy is that we would rather help someone mistakenly than refuse to help someone who genuinely needs it.

What kind of food donations do you accept?


We accept all unopened and unexpired nonperishable food. We also accept toiletries and baby products. SPAN has two full-size freezers and one refrigerator/freezer; therefore we can also accept unexpired dairy products, meat, produce, fresh fruit, and bread products. We cannot accept hazardous materials or items containing poison.

Most-needed items:

Pancake mix
Pasta side dishes
Box potatoes
Canned stew
Individually wrapped snack foods
Laundry detergent
TP/paper towels/tissues
Condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup

Can I drop off food after hours?


Yes you can! SPAN is open Monday through Thursday from 10-2, but if you want to drop off nonperishable food or toiletries any other time, we have two large Rubbermaid bins behind the SPAN house for your convenience. You can deliver food 24/7.

Can I donate expired food or perishable food?


At SPAN we do not distribute foods that are past their expiration dates. However, if we receive expired donations, we don't let them go to waste. We have several local partners to whom we can donate. 

Food dating is confusing because the US has no standard system for it. Only 20 states require dates on some perishable foods such as meat and dairy. The one exception is infant formulas, which require an expiration date due to the deterioration of nutrients over time.

Manufacturers often place a "use by" or "best if used by" date on their items to help consumers get the best quality, but these foods will almost certainly still be good beyond this date. A “sell by” date tells a retailer when to pull an item from the shelves.

According to the USDA, high-acid canned goods, like tomatoes and citrus, will keep for up to 18 months. Low-acid canned goods - pretty much everything else - will last for up to five years. Canned foods are sterile, so they won’t host bacteria, but eventually the taste and texture will deteriorate. Keep them at room temperature in a dark place. Toss any cans that are bulging or leaking, or that spurt liquid when opened. Although the toxin that causes botulism is extremely rare in commercial canned goods, damaged cans have a higher chance of being contaminated.

Tell me about SPAN's volunteer opportunities


We have many opportunities to volunteer for SPAN, including Interviewers (work directly with the clients), Pantry Workers (they keep our food pantry well stocked) and Board of Directors (Represent our Church Partners). If you would like to part of this team, Please call our office at 410-647-0889 or email us at SPANhelps@yahoo.com and put "volunteer" in the subject field to get further information or to set up a visit.

Do you have service opportunities for students?

Unfortunately, we don't have much in the way of service opportunities for students. We have a pretty substantial volunteer base who come daily to sort our food, and they do a great job of taking care of all of our work.
However, we are always in need of funding because we give financial assistance to clients for court-ordered evictions, utility turnoffs and medical copays. If your youth would be willing to do a fundraiser for SPAN, that would be greatly appreciated. Examples would be a bake sale or car wash or something of that nature.
Additionally, students can do food/toiletry or baby supply drives for SPAN. 
If any Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or member of a similar group is interested in doing a service project for SPAN, please email spanhelps@yahoo.com and we will be happy to make suggestions about innovative projects, such as construction improvements to our physical building, landscaping, or other activities of that nature.