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Reston nonprofit opens food distribution center in Sterling

Inside the new Cornerstones food distribution hub in Sterling (courtesy Cornerstones)

Cornerstones, a Reston-based nonprofit organization, has expanded into Sterling.

The nonprofit organization — which has offered food and other supports for individuals and families in need since it was founded in 1970 — opened the Free from Hunger Center last week.

The 10,000-square-foot center is a food distribution hub intended to keep food pantries throughout the Dulles corridor area stocked up and ready for demand.

Cornerstones CEO Kerri Wilson said the hub addresses an organizational issue, not a supply problem. Many organizations that offer hunger relief suffer from an unconventional challenge: inadequate storage space.

“This is not about interrupting existing supply rescue chains; it’s about figuring out how to be smarter,” Wilson said.

The center will also house soon-to-expire food from grocery stores and offer storage for local food pantries, while providing services for the community.

Larry Schwartz, who chairs Cornerstones’ food hub task force, said the hub will have space for offices, training, and events. Thousands of tons of food that may otherwise have gone to waste will be collected, sorted and repackaged.

“This opportunity to scale our food programs in ways we couldn’t before, this opportunity to reduce food waste, food insecurity and carbon emissions all at the same time — opportunities like this, to effect systemic change, don’t arise often and they don’t occur without hard work, without your generosity,” Schwartz said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 27.

The center was made possible by the support of several community partners including Bob and Lisa Van Hoecke, HomeAid Northern Virginia, Floris United Methodist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Creative Strategies, and Gary and Kate Buschelman.

Bob Van Hoecke, a principal and CEO of a Reston-based oil industry consulting firm, compared the hub to an Amazon warehouse.

“What we are talking about here, in my mind, is transformative,” he said. “We have the ability to evolve how we’re going to deal with this problem. Every day, tons of food is destroyed, but yet people are going home and going to sleep at night hungry.”

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