October 27, 2020
Food insecurity impacts millions of people in the United States, and yet over 40% of fresh produce in our country goes to waste. The USDA defines food insecurity as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of a lack of money and other resources. In Prince William County, Virginia over 6% of adults and 12% of children are food insecure. Local nonprofit Action in Community Through Service of Prince William (ACTS), is on the frontline of providing much-needed food to those in desperate need.

The Dumfries, Virginia-based nonprofit launched its Prince William Food Rescue app in August of 2019. The program organizes deliveries – or “rescues – from donor locations throughout the county including grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and hospitals to several distribution locations that include churches, community centers, senior facilities, and schools.
To date, the Prince William Food Rescue has mobilized over 1600 volunteers who have picked up and redistributed 3 million pounds of donated food to area food pantries.

In March, ACTS escalated its food rescue and distribution efforts in response to an unprecedented rise in need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation challenges created by the crisis, which makes it harder for the most vulnerable to reach food assistance locations.

The Prince William Food Rescue mobile app has been instrumental in eliminating barriers food providers have donating food and lowering any hurdles to receiving and distributing fresh healthy foods during the pandemic.

“The APP is the right tool at the right time,” said Aaron Tolson, Director of Development for ACTS in an interview with Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “It’s been the lynchpin for our work during this pandemic by providing logistics to get food where it’s needed more efficiently and mobilizing our volunteers.”

With the help of a $20,000 COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, ACTS is now redistributing about a million pounds of food weekly to help feed the hungry in Prince William County.

“At ACTS we believe that everyone in Prince William County has a right to healthy food and we, along with our amazing volunteers, food donors and nonprofit partners, are working extremely hard during this crisis to do all we can to continue to respond to the food insecurity our country is facing,” said Tolson.

There are currently 67 food distribution sites throughout Prince William County. ACTS will soon launch “Northern Virginia Food Rescue” to offer this technology to other counties in the region.

“If we can create food resiliency through a network of Food Programs that’s what we want to accomplish,” said Tolson. “We couldn’t do this important work without our ‘Food Rescue Heroes’ who make it all possible.”

The program continues to grow as donor locations, rescues, and app downloads increase each week. To learn more about how to download the app and become a “Food Rescue Hero” visit www.pwfoodrescue.org.
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