FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - With school districts shuttered across the nation, many students and their families are struggling to get food on the table.
As administrators work to provide free and reduced-cost lunches to affected children, they’re facing unprecedented challenges and getting creative to address them.
In Northern Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools are expanding their “grab and go” food distribution by adding pop-up locations, including at local schools and along several bus routes.
They’re even utilizing school buses that are not being used during the outbreak to drop off meals at those delivery points!
Meanwhile, food pantries are furiously trying to fill the gaps.
“We typically serve at this time of year 66 families at the warehouse. We have seen since last Friday, the numbers grow to 120, 145, 189 (per day),” explained Annie Turner, Executive Director of Food for Others.
Turner’s organization reports a 90 percent rise in demand as their traditional donation streams simultaneously dry up.
She said, “Typically about 800,000 pounds comes in from grocery stores each year and that food is used to feed our families and that has pretty much dried up within the last week because the grocery stores don’t have the surplus.”
In the short term, Food for Others is supplementing with donations from many businesses and catering companies that have closed their doors, however, Turner says that source won’t last long.
On a smaller scale, grassroots efforts in places like DC’s Glover Park are making an impact in their own neighborhoods.
Volunteer and Stoddert Elementary School parent Rachel Landers-Vaagenes says, “We’re doing this for the families who are on free and reduced lunch or other needs, but if you need a bag of groceries, we will try and find something.”
Another parent and volunteer, Daniel Clark, said “I think we’ve got 78 families that have come on through already bringing food and it’s the toilet paper. I’m like wow, people are bringing toilet paper. This is generosity!”