COVID-19 update 4
A Message from the Executive Director
After all that has happened in the last many weeks, it is time to update you on AFAC and our efforts to serve a growing number of families in need.
- First, you need to know we are all safe and working hard. The staff has taken on this challenge with enthusiasm and determination. I am very proud of their work and their care for our mission and the many families who come to us seeking assistance.
- Since February, we have seen the number of active referrals to AFAC increase by 30%. We expect this number to keep increasing. More and more new families continue to seek help from AFAC, in addition to the thousands of families that AFAC already serves. Our commitment remains as it always has been – to serve all in need in Arlington.
- In the last update, I mentioned we changed our distribution hours at our Nelson location and changed our distribution process to handing out pre-bagged food. A couple of weeks ago, we moved our distribution outside to limit access inside the building and prevent any potential contamination.
- Food donations are also being collected outside of the building. To be safe, all food donations are placed in large hampers dated and held for 3 days before they are sorted by our volunteers.
- From the start, we have been practicing social distancing – lines have been marked on the stairs and on the sidewalks to help keep families at the proper distances. Staff and volunteers are required to wear masks and gloves and we have insisted anyone coming for food to also wear masks.
- Many of our off-sites are still receiving food and have dedicated staff who are taking on the distribution of AFAC food within their facilities. At other sites, we have had to make major adjustments. With the support of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington on North Vermont & Carlin Springs Road, we have established a large outdoor distribution site that is now serving upwards of 190 families. This site in particular will be growing and will serve as a model for additional sites that might be needed in the future.
- Arlington County has just formed the Coalition for a Hunger Free Arlington to coordinate food services among the Arlington Public Schools, AFAC, the Department of Human Services (DHS), and a number of organizations providing meals to those in need through school PTAs and local neighborhood groups. We are working with the Coalition to provide groceries that can be delivered to homebound individuals, those in quarantine, and those with active cases.
- One aspect of our services that we are not changing is the need for a referral. If an individual or a family comes to us in need, we will serve them. Then we ask that they call DHS or other approved agency to get a long term referral to us. By doing this we assure the family will get all of the benefits they may be eligible for (SNAP, WIC, TANF, etc) and are Arlington residents in need. The referral system also provides all of the data needed to determine food inventory levels, necessary food purchases, and very importantly identify any trends that may need to be addressed in our planning efforts.
Let me assure everyone that while the coronavirus is a huge challenge, AFAC is working hard and in a very planned way to continue our mission of serving all in need of food. We are extremely grateful for your continuous support. Because of your care, our morale and our determination could not be higher!
Thank you,Charles Meng
Executive Director & CEO