In Herndon, patrons in need of food line up in family groups, socially distant from other families, to receive bagged items from masked and gloved Food for Neighbors volunteers as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases mounts.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
Even in the days of coronavirus isolation and social distancing, individuals one by one stepped out of their comfort zone, manned plastic gloves and face masks to greet patrons at the Thursday, March 26, Food For Neighbors distribution site at Hutchinson Elementary School in Herndon. On the other end, individuals and families in need of food stood in a long line that wrapped around the front of the building waiting for food desperately needed.
Karen Joseph is Executive Director of Food For Neighbors, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting local middle through high school students and families struggling with weekend food insecurity. "Our model is to collect the food and provide it to schools where they can distribute it to students they've identified. With the statewide closures, many schools have turned to Food For Neighbors to help them distribute the food. We are working closely with our principals, assistant principals and social workers along with our community partners like Trinity Presbyterian Church and Floris United Methodist Church to make sure these students have food over the weekend. The Food For Neighbors community has stepped up and answered our call for help with an abundance of monetary donations to help us purchase food and grocery store gift cards," said Joseph.
Beginning Thursday, April 2, Food For Neighbors anticipates making adjustments to its distribution model to make it more efficient while enhancing social distancing. Organizers seek to provide drive-thru and walk-up delivery. For those in vehicles, Food For Neighbors plans for its volunteers to bring the packed grocery bag or student bags to the car, and the driver loads. For patrons who walk to the school site, there will be tables where one individual at a time can approach and receive the food. Children, if not accompanied by another adult, should be directed to maintain social distance from the table and others.
"As we know, it takes an entire community to care for our neighbors, and right now, we have a lot of neighbors who need this extra food support," said Joseph. The next distribution is planned to start at noon, Thursday, April 2, and will continue until food supplies are depleted, according to James. “Hunger is closer than you think” is the tagline for Food For Neighbors. James asked that the community help Food For Neighbors as it provides for local families. Visit https://www.foodforneighbors.org/ to learn more.