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County allocates $5M of Covid funds to Capital Area Food Bank expansion

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will allocate $5 million toward the expansion of the Capital Area Food Bank facility in Newington (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted last week to allocate $5 million of coronavirus recovery funding to the Capital Area Food Bank to expand its Newington warehouse due to increased need.

The project to build a 45,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost $35 million and take two years to complete. CAFB also sought funding from other private partners and the Northern Virginia local governments and communities they serve. Fairfax County is the first to make a formal announcement of funding, CAFB spokeswoman Hilary Salmon told FFXnow.

“We’re happy not only to invest in them but to keep them in Fairfax County as they had looked at relocating to other places,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said at the board’s meeting.

Located at ​​6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, CAFB distributed 27 million meals throughout Northern Virginia during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKay said. That was nearly triple the amount of the previous year. CAFB also serves Alexandria City, Arlington, and Prince William counties, as well as Fairfax City, Manassas, Manassas Park and Falls Church.

To keep up with the demand, the food bank had to double warehouse capacity through short-term leases.

The CAFB doesn’t anticipate demand will subside, and expects to distribute 8 million meals in Fairfax County this year. The expansion would increase square footage by nearly 400%, McKay said.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said, over the last two years, over 3 million pounds of food had been provided to Lee and Mount Vernon district residents through food drops and distributions.

“Of that 3 million pounds, approximately 1.5 million has come from the Capital Area Food Bank,” he said. “So, this is a very needed thing in our area and what I’m hearing, which is almost unbelievable, is that there is still great need for food and we don’t see that basically truncating or dropping as a result of the change in the pandemic.”

In CFAB’s 2021 Hunger Report, a survey of more than 1,800 of its clients found that two-thirds of respondents visited a food pantry for the first time in the year prior to spring 2021. Nearly 90% of those respondents said their need for free food was a direct result of COVID-19.

The county expects to receive the American Rescue Plan Act funds it will allocate to the bank no sooner than spring, McKay said. The county is drafting an agreement to protect the funds if the project doesn’t move forward or if there are unexpected changes.

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