I came across a statistic recently that really hit home about the issue of hunger in our community. One out of five County students goes hungry in a 30 day period, according to the 2010-11 Fairfax County Youth Survey (for students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades). The study, which was conducted by the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, concluded that students who reported going hungry were more likely to be in a single-parent household.
It is for this reason that the Lorton Community Action Center, and other non-profits like us in Fairfax County, exist. The statistics are alarming, especially in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Families who walk into LCAC for food receive a minimum of 30 pounds of groceries per family (larger families get extra). We have been serving around 170 families each week for food, which translates into more than five thousand pounds a week, or as I like to refer to it two-and-a-half tons of food a week! That is a lot of food that LCAC needs to receive each week to help families who walk through our doors.
To have enough food on a weekly basis, we need a lot of help. Recently, we received large food donations from individuals (The Mobley family), faith communities (Temple B’nai Shalom, Calvary Road Baptist and Pohick Episcopal), businesses (Wegman’s, Family Chiropractic of Springfield, Lorton Valley and Saratoga Giants) and schools (South County Secondary-Honor Society) that helped bring in the two-and-a-half tons of food needed each week. It is hard to imagine how we could help the families that we see each week without the support of so many in the Lorton area.
The recession has hit many people hard. I can't fathom having to choose between feeding my family or putting gas in my car so I can get to work. So what can you do? Consider sponsoring a food drive in your neighborhood, at your house of worship or place of business.
We are low on rice, canned or dried beans, pasta sauce and canned vegetables. This food helps real families, right here in your neighborhood!
I met a man recently who stopped by the LCAC house to thank us. He said that when he moved to Lorton he was not earning enough to feed his wife and two children. Over the period of one year, he came to the pantry weekly. After time, he was able to find a better job and he proudly said to me, “Now I can feed my children!”
We all want that, the chance to take care of our families, to make a difference, to know that what we do matters in the world. Families in our community can use our help. Thanks for all you do for helping your neighbors through LCAC!
Linda Patterson is the Executive Director of the Lorton Community Action Center. The LCAC is located at 9518 Richmond Highway, and the food bank accepts drop-off donations.