ALEXANDRIA, Va. - As of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service, Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria spent the day making sure no one goes hungry.
They distributed over 500 bags of food during a socially distanced, drive-thru distribution event. This included meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables – all provided by the Share Food Network.
Without this, some families FOX 5 talked with said they wouldn’t have been able to eat.
Gerson Lopez, for example, drove by to pick up food for his entire family. He is a dad of three who is unemployed due to COVID-19.
"For me, it’s very helpful because this pandemic it’s very difficult to find work," said Lopez. "Thank you and god bless you guys!"
Clearly, this food means more now than ever before. Food pantries and food banks across the country have seen an uptick in families seeking assistance as a result of skyrocketing unemployment numbers related to COVID-19 and the economic crisis.
Pastor Taft Quincey explains the struggles his church is hearing about during the pandemic.
"There have been many people who have been displaced or from their jobs underemployed or unemployed, especially with schools not been in person – we know for a lot of children – that means they won’t eat because they really depend upon those meals so we try our best to give them something during this time. It’s a perfect day to do this Dr. King was all about service," said Quincey.
He said the mission of his church aligns with King’s vision.
"I think he would say this is part of the solution to be able to help our fellow brothers and sisters. I think he would also say that we need to continue to advocate for policies and advocate for the poor. There are people that need adequate and justifiable wages of living because everyone wants to take care of their families. I think he would still fight for righteousness and justice for those who may be underserved to be looked at as being equal," said Quincey.
Senator Mark Warner spent the afternoon volunteering with the church. He shared a staggering statistic that one in seven Virginians are worried about where they are going to find their next meal. He said the best way to move forward is with a simple act of kindness.
"That willingness to view each other as fellow Americans, fellow human beings, treat each other with respect even if we don’t fully agree with each other on all political bases and the idea of this church family who does this on a regular once a month, giving out food to those in need, that does reflect Dr. King’s legacy and his view of Christianity," said Warner.
The COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law last month includes $13 billion in nutrition assistance and a 15% increase in SNAP benefits. Senator Warner said he fought to include his legislation to help hard-hit minority communities and businesses weather the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Provisions of the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act, which makes the largest single investment into minority-owned and community-based lending institutions in the nation’s history, will help bring targeted relief to communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA gives out free food once a month. For details, click here.