A nonprofit is partnering with the district and schools to provide food assistance to students when classes begin again next week.
food for neighbors The FFN, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Arlington Public Schools (APS) have announced a partnership where gift cards for food, toiletries and groceries will be collected and distributed to students in need on a weekly basis.
Herndon-based Food for Neighbors has partnered with Fairfax County and Loudoun County schools over the past five years, but the 2022-2023 school year will be the first to work with APS.
FFN will work with students at three high schools initially – Wakefield High School, Arlington Community High School, and Arlington Career Center – when the year’s classes begin next Monday (29 August).
Renee Maxwell, FFN Community Outreach Coordinator, told ARL that “a rough estimate is that we will provide consistent, regular support to 200-300 students” to get started. FFN works with schools and staff to identify the students most in need.
However, the hope is to expand to help more students in more schools soon.
“We are pleased to work with the Arlington County Department of Human Services to bring our programs to Arlington Public Schools,” FFN Foundation and Executive Director Karen Joseph said in a press release. “Arlington is a very diverse and vibrant area, and the expansion provides the opportunity for us to learn about and respond to the needs of the community, so that we can help more students who are facing food insecurity.”
The main way FFN collects and distributes items is through “red bag program. “
This is where volunteers shop for shelf-stable items, leave them in a red bag provided by the FFN on their doorstep, and other volunteers come to pick them up, sort food, and distribute them to local schools on the same day.
The plural event occurs throughout the day five times in the school year. The first event involving Arlington is scheduled to happen on October 29. Those who wish to volunteer are asked to donate items to sign up “in early time.”
More than 1,700 food donors and about 1,200 volunteers have signed up to help across Northern Virginia so far, according to a press release.
FFN also provides shelves and lockers for schools to store extra food, as well as groceries gift cards and holiday meals.
During the 2021-2022 school year, the FFN provided more than 88,000 pounds of food and hygiene supplies to Fairfax and Loudoun County schools. In addition, more than $105,000 in grocery gift cards has also been donated so students can access fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and other perishable items.
Food insecurity remains a significant challenge in Arlington and across the region. Nearly 8% of Arlington residents have experienced food security recently, according to a report Earlier this year.
Rates were particularly high in certain neighborhoods including Glencarlyn, Buckingham, Ashton Heights, Pentagon City, Crystal City, Forest Glen, and Arlington Mill. everybody Three of these high schools The ones that FFN will present next year will have students from these neighborhoods.
Moreover, the federal government Completed the free meal program To all students earlier this summer. While the students were in Many district primary schools You will still be able to receive free meals under Eligibility requirement for the communityThe sunset for free meals nationwide may leave some students wondering where their next meal might come from.
We hope that the “Food for Neighbors” program will help fill some of these gaps.
“Through my previous work in Fairfax County, I saw how much the partnership with Food For Neighbors has impacted addressing food security for middle and high school students,” Food Security Coordinator at Department of Homeland Security Stephanie Hopkins said in a press release. “I know that members of the Arlington community have a spirit of giving, and I am confident that they will come to support the Red Bag Program by donating food and business support.”