Around Town

Springfield Town Center gears up for new school year with food drive and ‘Paw Patrol’

A LOVE sign at the Springfield Town Center entrance (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The dalmation and husky from “Paw Patrol” will be on call at Springfield Town Center (6500 Springfield Mall) tomorrow (Saturday) to give kids a day of fun before school resumes on Aug. 21.

Appearances by the animated dogs Marshall and Everest — or at least people costumed to look like them — are among the attractions promised for the mall’s “Fuel for School” event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Grand Court near the newly opened Lego Discovery Center.

Other planned festivities include entertainment, games, food, a selfie station, face painting, a balloon twister and notebook decorating.

As suggested by its name, the main goal of the event, however, is to collect donations for the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes more than 50 million meals annually across the D.C. region.

“The Capital Area Food Bank is a phenomenal organization in the Washington, DC region and we are pleased to partner with them on this effort,” Springfield Town Center Marketing Director Justin Roth said. “Their efforts to combat food insecurity in our communities are commendable, and their location in Lorton, just a short drive from our Center, made partnering with them a no-brainer.”

The nonprofit broke ground on an expansion of its facility at 6833 Hill Park Drive back in May. The new, 43,000-square-foot warehouse will provide additional storage and distribution space, as the need for food assistance remains high in the pandemic’s wake.

Donations will be optional at “Fuel for School,” but the town center encourages attendees to contribute money or an accepted food item:

  • Plant Proteins: Canned or dry beans, whole nuts & seeds, or lentils
  • Canned Tuna, Salmon, or Chicken in water
  • Grains: Brown & White rice, pasta, whole oats, corn & flour tortillas
  • Peanut Butter: no hydrogenated oils
  • Pantry staples: cooking oils, tea, non-dairy/shelf stable milks
  • Canned vegetables: low sodium, no salt added
  • Canned fruits in 100% juice
  • Whole grain hot and cold cereal containing less than 7g of sugar per serving
  • Non-salt spice: e.g. black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, etc.

Donors will get a chance to spin a prize wheel.

Approximately 34% of Fairfax County Public Schools students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals, as of Oct. 31, 2022, according to the school system. At some schools, all students can get a free breakfast and lunch after FCPS joined the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) last year.

For anyone looking for other ways to support students as school returns, the Fairfax nonprofit Britepaths is still raising funds for its Back to School supply drive, which will continue until Aug. 31.