On February 9th, Food for Others (FFO) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newly expanded food distribution center and warehouse.
Elected officials and community leaders united to celebrate the addition of “My Market”, a grocery store-like shopping experience for clients. The additional 10,391 square feet of space was added to better serve food insecure residents in Northern Virginia.
The ribbon cutting ceremony marked more than just the opening of doors. Unlike in the past, My Market now allows families to choose the foods they like instead of receiving standardized boxes. This ensures clients receive the groceries they need and helps cut back on food waste caused by the disposal of unwanted food. The grocery store-like experience is available to all clients eligible for emergency food assistance through USDA support or with a referral.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik recalled growing up on free meals and the hard decisions her family had to make regarding food shopping.
“It is important that were not only providing our families with food, but we’re also ensuring that they are being treated with dignity,” said Palchik. “Ensuring that families feel welcome, that they have a space for their kids, that they have those wraparound services, that they have dignity even if they’re not able to pay for the food themselves, and are able to have the same experience everyone in the community has.”
Every detail of the new facility has been carefully selected to provide the best experience for clients, all the way down to the trauma-informed paint color on the walls. The new “My Market” space is equipped with air conditioning and heating, with fully stocked shelves for clients and a small activity table for children. The market includes a brand-new freezer and a refrigerator that is fully stocked with produce from the Capital Area Food Bank.
By shopping alongside the clients, community volunteers can help families choose the foods that meet their families’ nutritional needs through using the USDA’s “My Plate.”
The lasting effects of the pandemic coupled with inflation have only worsened the situation for many families already struggling with hunger and food scarcity.
“The face of hunger is continually changing, and we are seeing hundreds of new families who have never sought our help in the past. With this expansion, we can better deliver our services to a wider audience and decrease food waste,” said Executive Director of Food for Others, Annie Turner. “In addition, our community cares deeply about the well-being of its neighbors – our devoted volunteers and generous donors have made this expansion a reality.”
The market relies heavily on a combination of food drive donations from individuals and corporations, recovered food from restaurants and grocery stores, along with some purchased food as well. To better accommodate the richly diverse community that Food for Others serves, “My Market” has begun to stock foods such as maseca, lentils, etc. Additionally, the facility is equipped with an ADA compliant ramp, making it more accessible to wheelchair users and clients with physical limitations.
Last year, Food for Others distributed over 3.7 million pounds of food to Northern Virginia, which was enough for 3.1 million meals. Food for Others plans to partner with community organizations to provide clients with “wrap around” services such as nutritional education and literacy coaching that positively impact their well-being.
The opening of “My Market” is just one of Food for Others’ latest endeavors to address hunger and food insecurity in the community. Through warehouse food distribution, neighborhood and mobile sites, the Power Pack Program, and multiple community partnerships, FFO has helped thousands of people who experience hunger and food insecurity.
Food for Others is a regional food bank in Northern Virginia that provides free groceries, social services, and safety net services to its families and neighbors in need since 1995.
Food for Others needs more volunteer shoppers to accompany families as they choose their foods. If you’d be willing to lend a hand, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.