Hunger in Northern Virginia

What is food insecurity?

The USDA defines food insecurity as "the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways." In the United States, nearly 44 million people, 13 million of them children, don't have enough to eat and don't know where their next meal is coming from.


How can you learn when you're hungry?

The reality is that 1 in 5 children in the United States don't get enough food to eat. Some common effects of hunger include:

• reduced focus, learning and problem solving
• excessive absences
• increased prevalence of illness
• violent and disruptive behavior


Did you know...

In Virginia, 963,980 people are facing hunger, and 252,480 of them are children.  


That's 1 in 7 children. 


In Fairfax County, nearly 75,000 residents are food insecure. It is estimated that, since the pandemic, food insecurity has doubled in Fairfax County.


Hunger Is Closer Than You Think

In Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun County Public Schools, 93,000+ students are eligible for free/reduced price school meals.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, over 63,000 children qualify for free and reduced price meals. This represents 35.75% (over 1 in 3) of total students.

In Arlington and Loudoun County Public Schools, over 25% of students qualify for free and reduced price meals.

During the 2023-2024 school year, nearly 65% of students in Herndon Middle School and almost 52% of students in Herndon High school (schools where Food For Neighbors began) are eligible for free/reduced price meals. 


Our partner schools often have even higher eligibility rates, sometimes reaching nearly 91% of their student body qualifying for free/reduced price school meals. 

This chart represents Food For Neighbors’ partnering schools with the highest free and reduced price eligibility rates (2023-24). (source)

Childhood hunger is a real issue in Northern Virginia. For many students, school meals are the only guaranteed nutrition they receive. What happens after school hours, during weekends, and holidays? 


That's where Food For Neighbors steps in. Unlike traditional food pantries, Food For Neighbors takes a unique approach to addressing hunger among school-aged children. We collaborate closely with local schools, providing them with essential food supplies. These supplies are then distributed discreetly by school social workers to students who face food insecurity, ensuring that they have access to nutritious meals without stigma or barriers.

Positive Outcomes When Adolescents Are Fed

Increased enrollment in AP courses, and increase in high school graduation and university attendance rates.

Improved mental and physical health--decrease in depression, anxiety and illness.

Decrease in violent or aggressive behavior incidents.

Increased participation in after school activities.


Your donation today can help give local students a greater chance for success.

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Food for Neighbors® is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public charity and your donation is tax-deductible under U.S. tax law. To claim a donation as an itemized deduction on your taxes, please keep your email donation receipt that we will send you. Any funds raised in excess of our goal for any particular project will be automatically applied to the other ongoing work of Food for Neighbors.

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