Food For Neighbors is an organization operated and supported by local donors, volunteers and businesses who care about the students in their community. We understand the value in helping students obtain a more reliable source of food for their next meal. The social workers we partner with attest to the positive impact our program is having on their students. We are committed to ending hunger in all of Northern Virginia to help give all students a chance to succeed.
We're making headlines with our work in the community. Check out our feature articles here.
Our mission is to end child hunger in the Northern VA area by raising awareness and community involvement. Through awareness comes a desire to help because no one believes a child should struggle with hunger.
Food For Neighbors provides local middle and high schools with individual meals and snack items to distribute during times when students might otherwise go hungry. We connect with their social workers and help the schools set up a weekend snack program or food pantry to distribute the food.
We provide the platform for schools to engage their local community to donate food and help gather volunteers in the community to assist with picking up donations, sorting the food and distributing to schools in their area. Physical food donations go to participating schools in the immediate area, and Food For Neighbors provides any surplus to other Northern Virginia schools needing extra support at the time.
This is done through our Red Bag Program. We distribute Red Bags to donors and include a specific list of items we need, and then collect the bags bi-monthly on a Saturday. We also provide support and marketing materials for schools to engage their community to recieve in-kind donations from individuals, area businesses, stores and local faith organizations.
Our program began in Herndon, VA, where the local community quickly responded to the need for food at our local middle and high schools. Now our students are benefitting weekly from the consistent and reliable source of donated food. FFN has expanded into schools in the Springfield, Falls Church and Fort Hunt areas, as well as neighboring schools in Loudoun County and Arlington County. And with your help, we can continue to reach even more students.
For a list of middle and high school that we currently partner with in Northern Virginia, click here.
We're thrilled to have received an Editor's Pick award for "Best School-Based Food Pantry" in Arlington Magazine's Best of Arlington Awards 2023! Thank you to Arlington Magazine for helping to spread the word about our mission. Thank you also to our many food donors, volunteers, financial supporters, and community partners for making this possible!
"Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. Food insecurity is one way we can measure and assess the risk of hunger. In the United States currently, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger." (Source: Feeding America)
"It’s a simple fact: A child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. But this year, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, 13 million children - 1 in every 6 kids - may not know where they will get their next meal." (Source: Feeding America)
In Virginia, 799,620 people are facing hunger - and of them 214,270 are children. That's 1 in 9 children.
Prior to the pandemic, Fairfax County (ranked 2nd nationally for highest median household income) had the highest number of food insecure in Virginia. The Capital Area Food Bank estimates that there are 74,000 food insecure Fairfax County residents .
In Fairfax County, 12% of children under 18 suffer from food insecurity.
In the 2019-20 school year, Free & Reduced Lunch participation increased.
For more information:
2021 Hunger Report from Capital Area Food Bank - Insights on Food Insecurity, Inequity, and Economic Opportunity in the Greater Washington Region
Hunger Eats at Student Productivity—And Our Future Workforce
Map of Fairfax County, Virginia High School Free and Reduced Lunch Program Participation
Map of Fairfax County, Virginia Middle School Free and Reduced Lunch Program Participation
Feeding America, FCPS School Profiles, Fairfax County Poverty Demographics, Virginia Department of Education Statistics, Capital Area Food Bank
As PTA President of her son’s middle school, Karen first became aware of the high percentage of students participating in the free and reduced-price lunch programs. She learned that many of these students participated in Saturday service projects because lunch was provided. A Social Worker shared that many of the students didn’t have food over the weekends and relied on the school providing breakfast and lunch during the school week – often their only meals for the day!
Upon further investigation she learned that many groups and organizations helped the elementary students in this situation. The challenge came in finding groups to support a weekend food program for the older students attending middle and high school. The reasons were mostly about numbers. There were just too many students in need.
Karen and her husband Mark decided that they could support these older kids with the help of the local community. Knowing they would need a team of volunteers and more resources to sustain weekend snack programs at the schools, they founded Food For Neighbors.
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
Non-Discrimination Policy: Food For Neighbors welcomes all Northern Virginia middle and high schools to request services and, given sufficient school and volunteer interest in the surrounding area, hopes to support every school that requests support. Food For Neighbors neither discriminates in selecting volunteers and vendors, nor in serving schools and their students. This nondiscrimination applies to age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, and military status.