Community provides no-cost resources for food insecure students


Aarthika Krishnan, Staff Writer

With school closures continuing across Fairfax County, obtaining food can be a struggle for students who are food insecure, especially for those who previously relied on free or reduced price lunches provided at school. Fortunately, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has established several free grab-and-go meal programs designed to help these students in our community while closely following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

FCPS Food and Nutrition Services has organized food distribution centers at designated intersections, schools and community centers, and has been giving away free breakfast and lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays since early March. Food and Nutrition Services staff members are present on site to directly distribute these meals to vehicles at curbside pick-up stations. Adults can also pick up meals for their school children at no cost. 

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, students are able to receive fresh vegetable and fruit snacks along with their daily free meals, ensuring that proper nourishment is achieved while supporting local farmers. Additionally, there are also several pop-up locations throughout the district that offer free breakfast and lunch meals to FCPS families. The exact pickup times and routes are listed on the FCPS website. 

Hunger doesn’t take a break during the quarantine; as we navigate through this crisis, there are many ways people can individually support local organizations that are working tirelessly to combat food insecurity. For instance, making a donation to the Foundation for FCPS would help raise funds for distance learning, access to technology and nutrition for nearly 60,000 students who are living in poverty. Alternatively, another way to support the Foundation is to bring your own bags when shopping at Whole Foods. From now until June 30th, Whole Foods stores in Springfield, Tysons Corner, Vienna, McLean and Fair Lakes will donate one nickel to the Foundation every time a customer reuses a bag. Also, local restaurants such as the Mellow Mushroom, On the Border and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit will be donating 15% to 20% of their sales from takeout meals to the Capital Area Food Bank on June 2nd.

Volunteering is also a great way to directly support the cause. Many non-profit organizations, including Food for Others and the Lorton Action Community Center, are looking for more volunteers to assist with food distribution. Their websites give the details of when and how you can donate your time and effort for food insecure people in our community.

The ongoing fight against hunger affects every single one of us. Together, we can all do something to support our fellow classmates in need while schools are closed. Even though our financial statuses may vary, it is imperative that we take care of each other to keep our community safe and healthy.