February 11, 2021

Food insecurity has been a problem in America long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. But it’s clear the virus has exacerbated the problem, with images of long lines at food distribution sites shining a light on the harsh reality.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, food pantries across Northern Virginia quickly shifted into high gear, after experiencing a surge of residents in need of food assistance. In Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the Nation’s wealthiest regions, more than 70,000 people live in poverty, according to government figures.

Food for Others, a nonprofit organization that provides food to local families in need was one of the first recipients of a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 Response Fund. FFO distributes food to more than 2,600 local families and 2,200 school children each week. Last year FFO distributed 2.4 million pounds of food.

FFO operates an Emergency Food program out of a warehouse Monday through Friday, 9:30 am-5pm. It also has nine mobile food pantries that are open weekday evenings. They provide 3-to-5 days’ worth of groceries to people referred by Fairfax County and other social service providers.

“Due to Covid-19 we are regularly serving over 1,000 families per week at the warehouse compared to 300-400 before the pandemic,” said Annie Turner, Executive Director at Food for Others.

One woman reached out to FFO for help to keep food on the table after losing her job.

“I have three children and it has been so difficult to find work. With COVID, everyone is scared, but this food brings my family a lot of relief. Thank you for all the help and the support because without you we would not be able to get food.” – FFO Client

Most of the clients being served by FFO since last March are new. Many have expressed embarrassment asking for help during this crisis. After losing financial support when both parents lost their jobs, one Northern Virginia Community College student moved in with friends.

“I am living with friends to save on rent. My friends have to buy me groceries and food most of the time. I never thought I could get help from a food bank. I picked up two boxes of food last week. I couldn’t even believe it at that moment.” –FFO Client

If you or someone you know needs food assistance, visit https://www.foodforothers.org/ or call (703) 207-9173. As an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, Food for Others relies on generous donations from individuals, community groups, and local businesses to the increasing demand for its services. To help them continue their essential work visit https://www.foodforothers.org/give-money/ to make a financial donation, view a list of needed food items, or learn about volunteer opportunities.