Email signup

Surging prices, inflation push food insecurity to new heights in Fairfax County

A food and resource distribution drive in Reston last month drew hundreds (via Cornerstones)

Prior to the pandemic, Fairfax County had the highest amount of food insecurity in the state. Now, some advocates say that number has more doubled.

According to the Fairfax Food Council and other county and local advocates, food insecurity remains a growing challenge for moderate-income families in what is a high cost-of-living area.

“Before the Covid [pandemic] hit this region, more than 16,000 people, including 5,000 children, turned to Cornerstones annually for help with food, affordable housing, quality childcare, job skills training, and health care access,” noted Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones, a Reston-based nonprofit organization. “29 months later, amid the pandemic’s lingering economic and health impact, they still do.”

Cornerstones has distributed nearly 9,500 bags of fresh produce and provided support for 1,347 households in the past fiscal year through its Assistance Services and Pantry Program (ASAPP). The program also helped 38 households with roughly $20,000 in emergency utilities assistance.

Based on Cornerstones’ data, most of the households the organization served earned extremely low or very low income. Nearly 40% were led by women and 20% of the households had one individual aged 55 or above.

The rising cost of groceries, transportation and the lack of affordable housing are adding additional pressures, according to Cornerstones.

“Through this summer, our ASAPP program will continue to support families in need and work in close collaboration with local faith groups, corporate partners, and other community nonprofits to stock food pantries across the region,” Wilson said. “Our greatest need currently are donations of fresh produce and grocery store and gas gift cards.”

Overall, roughly 8% of the county is classified as severely food insecure, according to the Capital Area Food Bank’s latest hunger report, which uses a screener tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for food insecurity in the overall region and interviews conducted between February and March of this year.

Even though food insecurity appears to be rising, the county’s main method to connect residents to services and resources — Coordinated Services Planning — has seen a significant dip in the number of requests. After a surge in the spring of 2020, the county-based service saw a 61% decrease in emergency food requests for fiscal years 2021-2022 over fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

“Fairfax County recognizes that food insecurity is still a critical need,” Cristin Bratt, communications director for Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services said. “Additional supports have been put in place to support this need, which may account for the decrease in calls requesting assistance.”

The shift is in part through federal dollars granted through the federal American Rescue Plan Act’s food access program. Implemented in fiscal year 2022, the program allocated $7.5 million over three years to purchase food for community food providers and support for food system infrastructure.

So far, roughly $3.3 million has been dispersed during the first year of the program across 22 houses of worship and 26 community-based organizations. The county also offers a number of services online to those impacted by food insecurity.

But with surging inflation and an economic downturn possible on the horizon, the elephant in the room is rental and utility assistance. The county does provide help to those in need through a federally funded emergency rental assistance program, along with other federal and local resources.

Recent Stories

Good Thursday evening, Fairfax County. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. đź•— News recap The following articles were published earlier…

A look at the smallest and largest homes sold in Fairfax County last month, January 2024.

A thorny set of issues continues to complicate Deli Italiano’s arrival in Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza.

The Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB) voted Tuesday (Feb. 20) to defer a decision on the application after attorney John Cowherd, who was representing an appealing Lake Anne condominium owner, flagged some concerns about the proposal.

Graham Center’s days may be numbered. The 61-year-old retail strip in West Falls Church has been targeted by the not-for-profit health system VHC Health for a future emergency department and…

Great Clips at South Lakes Village Center (Reston, Virginia) is seeking hair donors to participate in the Wigs for Kids program this Valentines Week. If you meet the minimum requirements and would like to donate your hair for children fighting cancer, we would love to host you in our salon this Valentine’s Week for a free haircut.

Minimum Requirements

  • Hair donations must be a minimum of 12 inches

  • Hair donations must be clean and stored/packaged completely dry.

  • Hair donations cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted.

  • Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM

Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.

Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Active Bystander: Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Training

The Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Active Bystander Certification course, also known as Active Bystander, is the premier training program to prepare civilians for how to respond during an intentional violent event and to address life-threatening emergencies.

Similar to FEMA’s

Ă—

Subscribe to our mailing list