Many of us will sit down with family and friends this Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving. We have much to be grateful for this year in our region and in our nation. I hope everyone will find the time from their busy schedule to share in the holiday spirit, to give thanks and not forget those less fortunate here at home and around the world.
As the richest country in the world, too many U.S., families, seniors, children, and veterans go to bed hungry. More than 47 million Americans qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program to assist individuals and families purchase essential food they need but cannot afford. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 900,000 veterans nationwide live in SNAP reliant households, including more than 35,000 in Virginia. After SNAP reductions this fall, CBPP estimates that a family of three faces living with $29 less in its food budget per month, translating into roughly 16 fewer meals.
Let’s take a moment this week to help these families in need. Regional centers in Northern Virginia leverage volunteer help, donated food, and helpful donations to feed thousands across the area every week.
The Spend Yourself Food Pantry in Falls Church distributes food to thousands every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Columbia Baptist Church. Last year, my staff and I helped play a very small part in an organization that brought in over 166,000 pounds of food, helping 18,000 individuals eat. Of course, without nearly 700 volunteer helpers this would not have occurred. Stop by 3245 Glen Carlyn Road this Saturday to join the help or donate some holiday essentials like cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes to their facility at 103 Columbia Street.
The bustling South Arlington-based food pantry, Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has been obtaining and distributing groceries free of charge to people living in Arlington who cannot afford to purchase enough food to meet their basic need for over 20 years. I helped kick off their Turkey Week last week and encourage you to join in. AFAC welcomes individuals, families, and groups to help with bagging and distributing food from 10am to noon Monday through Friday. Be sure to call ahead to schedule a volunteer appointment; AFAC can be reached at (703) 845-8486, or check out their online volunteer calendar: http://goo.gl/1CL4oC
Alexandrians Involved Ecumenically (ALIVE) is headquartered at First Christian Church in Alexandria. Founded in 1969, the multi-congregation charity helps those in emergency situations with critical needs gain self-sufficiency by providing food, furniture, and financial assistance, as well as childcare and housing. Last year This year they are operating an Alternative Giving program over the holidays to directly benefit families that need your help with low cost essentials. Contact ALIVE at (703) 837-9300 to see how you can help.
Have a wonderful holiday with your families and loved ones this year and please try to give some time and charity for those in need.