A variety of charitable organizations are working hard to ensure that Virginians in need are getting enough to eat — a mission that’s more important than ever during the current outbreak.
A bumpy economic road lies ahead of us thanks to the unprecedented pandemic we find ourselves in the midst of today. Over 410,000 Virginians have filed for unemployment over the last few weeks. While the federal government has signed a relief package to assist affected individuals, many will likely still be in need of assistance while stay-at-home orders are in place.
Across the commonwealth, food banks and charities are offering their services to those in need. Residents have the opportunity to give back to their community by donating and volunteering through these organizations.
FeedMore, a non-profit organization located in Richmond, provides for those who face hunger across 34 counties and cities.
“We distribute food through our programs to our neighbors who are food insecure,” said Jessica Hickey, marketing and communications manager at FeedMore. “We also work with more than 270 other nonprofits across the state who help us distribute wholesome food for healthy meals to those in need.”
People can make a hands-on difference with FeedMore by volunteering to help prepare and package food in their Community Kitchen, or deliver meals to the senior and homebound neighbors the organization serves. Financial and food donations can also be made, with every $10 gift making 40 meals available to those in need. Find more information at FeedMore.org.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, a member of the Virginia Food Banks and Feeding America organizations, has distribution centers in Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Verona, and Winchester.
Individuals can make one-time or monthly financial donations on their website at brafb.org/give-now/. One can choose to let their donation be used at the food bank’s discretion, or pick the ways their donation is used, including for farm fresh funds, produce markets, seniors, kid packs, or mobile food pantries.
Food products can also be dropped off at one of their warehouses, and their Hunger Hero Toolkit can be downloaded for ideas on how to create a food drive. Individuals can also find ways to volunteer or host their own food drive on their website.
Residents of the Roanoke area can donate food or money to the Friendship House Roanoke, who provides assistance through various programs. Donations to Friendship House can be made in-person at their location at 3926 Plantation Rd.
“We’ve seen the need for food charities triple in recent weeks,” said Aaron Dowdy, director at Friendship House Roanoke. “We usually donate 40 to 50 boxes of food a week, but now that has increased to around 120, so we’re in need of donations and funding,”
The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank is giving charitable services for those in the southeastern region of Virginia including the cities of Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Yorktown, Gloucester, and Mathews.
Those in need of food in the area can go to the “Get Help” tab on their website and find partner agencies and mobile drive-thrus close to them by typing in their zip code. Mobile drive-thrus, which have opened up recently by the foodbank due to the pandemic demand, require recipients stay in their vehicles and clean their trunks before arrival in order to be served.
Due to the extreme circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, income level requirements are being waived, since many people coming for assistance have never found themselves in the dire situation they’re in now.
“There’s a lot of individuals who have never needed food assistance before, so you may see people with nice cars who’ve been laid off and this is their new reality,” said Karen Joyner, executive director at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. “We’ve seen over 60 percent of people coming through our services who’ve never visited us before.”
Food charities in the NOVA region include the Arlington Food Assistance Center, the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, Capital Area Community Food, located in Lorton, and Food for Others, located in Fairfax. Information on donations and volunteer opportunities can be found on their websites.
“We want to love and serve our neighbors and with this crisis the best thing we can do is provide basic needs to them,” said Dowdy. “Even though we’re practicing social distancing, this is one way we can still provide for them.”
Top Photo via Virginia Peninsula Foodbank/Facebook