As the impact of the pandemic grows, APAH is grateful for the diverse and generous contributions to address food insecurity in our community—and to meet the needs of APAH residents. Through the generosity of our community, a variety of solutions and food access have helped address food insecurity to keep our neighbors fed. This network of assistance has been incredibly helpful for APAH residents. While the challenge continues—and is likely to increase when benefits like pandemic unemployment assistance end in July—APAH is so grateful to those who have stepped up to help.
The weekly AFAC distributions of supplemental groceries that so many families have counted on for years continue, and many more households have enrolled in the past few months. APAH volunteers support contact-free door delivery for the 90+ households that are unable to safely leave their homes and go to the store themselves. “I really rely on the food, it helps so much,” said one 82 year-old resident. “This means so much and I am so grateful.”
But, as is always the case, AFAC grocery distributions are designed to be a supplement—covering just a portion of a household’s weekly grocery needs. Others have joined in to help keep families fed as so many experience sudden and significant loss of income.
Arlington Public Schools offered meal pick-ups for students who normally would have eaten at school through the free and reduced meal programs. PTAs collected food donations and stocked up food pantries at K.W. Barrett Elementary School and others to provide essential groceries.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) showed their ingenuity and launched a win-win-win—raising funds from the community, helping farmers by buying produce boxes from vendors at the Columbia Pike Farmer’s Market, and providing those boxes to APAH and AHC families in need. Thanks to CPRO, Penn Farms, and Westmoreland Farms, more than 250 boxes will be delivered weekly all summer, benefiting APAH residents at Gilliam Place, Buchanan Gardens, Columbia Hills, and Columbia Grove.
Last month brought another win-win-win through Amazon’s 10,000 Meals in May initiative. Amazon provided the funding, the chefs and servers from Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant and others from Arlington’s 23rd Street Restaurant Row provided their talents, and low-income residents at both APAH and AHC properties were treated to nearly 5,000 delicious meals. With Italian, Thai, and Ethiopian meals on offer, a young Gilliam Place resident was excited that dinner was going to be “a trip around the world!”
Of course, there is nothing like a home-cooked meal. APAH is so grateful to the Arlington Community Foundation for granting $50,000 to provide cash assistance to enable APAH families in greatest need to purchase groceries. A single mother let APAH know what the supplemental funds allowed her to do, “It has really help me budget my groceries and I use it with coupons and get things on sale for my daughter and me. Thank you so much for helping me out!”
Together, our community has banded together to try to address the need. The generosity has been enormous. But, more need remains and we can only anticipate it will rise through the summer and fall. In July, the enhanced unemployment benefits will end, increasing the financial strain for many families. Schools are announcing fall schedules that will continue with a minimum of partial distance learning for students. This has real consequences for parents, especially if work and employment become more available.
Thanks to these donors and so many of you, our community is working to keep APAH residents and others from going hungry. Whether it is emergency food, medicine or help to support rent, your support for APAH’s Resident Emergency Fund is essential and can help families regain stability during this ongoing pandemic.