Weekend Food for Kids

It's hard to believe that in Fairfax County, the second richest county in the United States, many children go hungry on weekends.

In Fairfax County 89,000 residents are struggling with hunger, including 38,000 children (Source: Capital Area Food Bank). In Northern Virginia, 1 in 6 children is at risk of or experiencing hunger (Source: U.S. Census), and 1 in 5 children in public school is eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children look forward to coming to school, not to study and learn, but to eat free breakfast and lunch.

What do these children eat on weekends? Assistance League of Northern Virginia started a program in 2010, WEEKEND FOOD FOR KIDS, that provides supplemental food for children to eat over the weekend when school meals are not available. The program has now expanded, and thanks to substantial support from Dominion Energy and other generous donors and grantors, Assistance League of Northern Virginia provided 15,672 bags of food to hungry children during the 2016-17 school year. The food is distributed to six Title I elementary schools in Fairfax and Prince William Counties and the City of Alexandria.

Once a month, volunteers from Assistance League, along with volunteers from Dominion Energy and other individual and community volunteers, gather at the Dominion Energy's regional operations center in Herndon to pack the bags of food. The assembly line process for this effort is so efficient that over 1,500 bags of food are packed in less than an hour! Each bag of food costs approximately $4. and is filled with 12 nonperishable food items such as: cereal, canned fruit, tuna fish, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, and pudding. The supplemental food enables the children to come to school on Mondays ready to learn and to achieve their full potential in school.

How can you help us? COME to one of our food packing events and volunteer your time to help our team pack bags. This is a perfect way to expand your business's philanthropic profile. SPONSOR our food packing event for one month. Or sponsor a recipient school for one year. DONATE to our nonprofit! With your support, we will continue to deliver this critical program to children living with food insecurity.

If you have any questions, please contact VP Philanthropy Lynn Barron: lynnieb517@verizon.net or VP Resource Development Karen Amster: karenamster@aol.com

Program Continues to grow with Corporate and Community Help

2015-2016 School Year:

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Every month during the school year of September to May, Assistance League members, along with Dominion Virginia volunteers and Community Volunteers  pack 1,500 individual food bags for the kids in five Title I schools: Yorkshire Elementary, Lynbrook Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Cora Kelly Elementary and Pine Spring Elementary bringing the total number of children helped for the 2015-2016 school year to 13,556!. Thank you to  all of the volunteers of Assistance League of Northern Virginia, Dominion andthe community who make this program such a success each year. 

In 2015-2016, we gained a new community partner, Intelsat Corporation.  Intelsat volunteers have committed to pack 125 food bags for our program in 2016-2017.  This enables us to add a new Title I school to our Weekend Food for Kids program, Loch Lomond Elementary School in Prince William County, VA.  

2013-2014 School Year:

The Dunn Loring-Merrifield Rotary has been a strong supporter of our program since 2013 when they made an initial contribution to enable us to expand our Weekend Food for Kids program to a fifth Title I elementary school, Pine Spring in the  Falls Church area of Fairfax County.  This Rotary Club has continued its support for Weekend Food for Kids each subsequent year.  We are privileged and grateful to receive support from this community leadership organization.

Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year Assistance League of Northern Virginia expanded our services to include a new school, Cora Kelly, in the city of Alexandria.  Cora Kelly joins two Title I elementary schools in Fairfax county and one Title I school in Prince William county to benefit from our Weekend Food for Kids program.

During this past 2013-2014 school year Assistance League of Northern Virginia® in collaboration with Dominion Virginia Power purchased food and packed 14,514 individual food bags for hungry children in the five Title I schools..

Dominion volunteers donated over 450 hours, along with Saint John Newman high school students, a George Mason University sorority and other individual volunteers donating an additional 207 hours, to help Assistance League volunteers feed elementary students who qualified for free and reduced-priced lunches in five schools in Prince William County, Fairfax County, Falls Church and the city of Alexandria. The students received nutritious supplementary food to take home for the weekend on a monthly basis.

A big THANK YOU to Dominion Virginia Power and all our volunteers!

The Kickoff Weekend Food for Kids Packing Event in the 2012-2013 School Year

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Rodney Blevins, Vice President Dominion Virginia Power, presents our President, Linda Shilts, with a generous donation of $20,000

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ALNV members in red and Dominion Power volunteers in blue make the first Food Packing Event a huge success

Thank you, thank you. 1,240 children were less likely to be hungry this past weekend because of the generosity in time, effort and spirit of 26 Assistance League of Northern Virginia members and over 55 Dominion Virginia Power volunteers. 1,240 weekend food bags for the at-risk children in 4 elementary schools were packed on September 21, 2012 - the first food packing event for the 2012-2013 school year. The event moved like clockwork due to packing efforts of all these Dominion volunteers together with the planned organization of our members.

This packing event was special as Dominion Virginia Power Vice President, Rodney Blevins, presented our President, Linda Shilts, with a generous donation of $20,000 which is being used to expand our program to provide weekend food to 80% of those children eligible for free and reduced price meals at four area Title I schools. The grant enabled us to add the forth school, Cora Kelly in Alexandria, while increasing the food distribution to Yorkshire to meet the needs of all the families who requested assistance this term.

For additional information you may contact us at ALNorthernVA@yahoo.com or email our Weekend Food For Kids Coordinators Gail Banks at gcbanks31@verizon.net or Wilma Bastian at webastian@cox.net . 

2011-2012 School Year:

With the assistance of community volunteers, the Assistance League of Northern Virginia expanded its Weekend Food for Kids program during the 2011- 2012 school year. We provided 9.960 weekend food packages for food insecure students in two Title I elementary schools in Fairfax county and one Title I school in Prince William county. These students often receive free or reduced priced meals during the week, but lack this support on weekends. 

During one 2011-2012 packing event students of Lee High School in Fairfax helped us serve these children through their Nourishing Neighbors Food Drive.  A BIG thank you goes out to these Fairfax students for their community spirit!

Click the link below to see how these students were involved with their community.

Further Facts:

Children are going hungry and it is affecting their academic performance:

  • In Northern Virginia (Alexandria City, Arlington, Falls Church City, Fairfax County, Manassas City, Prince William County and Loudoun County), 1 in 6 children is at risk of or experiencing hunger.
  • During the 2007 Attorney General's Hunger Tour of Northern Virginia, Bob McDonnell said, "Having grown up in this area I know that most Virginians don't think about hunger and poverty when they think of Northern Virginia. This is a region that is defined by a robust and growing economy. However, when you stop to look aroun you find that hunger and poverty are present in these communities. They are just harder to see. There is no simple solution to solving the issues of hunger and poverty, but we have got to do more. No one should go to bed hungry in the Virginia of 2007."
  • In Northern Virginia, 1 in 5 children in public school is eligible for free or reduced price meals. Children look forward to coming to school, not to study and learn, but to eat the free breakfast and lunch.
  • Data has shown that, by the third grade, children who had been food insecure in kindergarten saw a 13% drop in their reading and math test scores compared to their food secure peers. (Partnership for America's Economic Success, 2008)
  • For school year 2008/2009, 37,161 or 22.2% of children enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools were eligible for the reduced and free School Nutrition Program (SNP) which provides breakfast and lunch on school days. In Prince William County, 23,238 or 31.5% were eligible. (Virginia Department of Education, SY2008/2009 NLSP Eligibility Report)
  • Counselors and teachers have noted behaviors in children that indicate chronic hunger. These indicators include: rushing food lines, extreme hunger on Monday mornings, comments about not having enough food, saving/hoarding/stealing food to take home, fatigue and lethargy, inattention at school, and poor school performance. For many of these children, the only meals they eat are the ones provided in school. (School counselors at Providence Elementary School)
 
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