Annandale Food Pantry Affected by National Shortage Trend
Demand is up at food pantries nationwide, including Annandale, but ACCA is doing all they can to help families in need
The Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) food pantry is one of hundreds across the nation experiencing a shortage thanks to the state of the current economy. While many have cut back on their services, the common trend is the rise in demand for deliveries and goods. Despite the increase in the number of deliveries to families, ACCA, which is an alliance of 26 churches in the Annandale community and adjacent areas, has managed to continue helping those in need.
According to Jean Rackowski, chairman of the Pantry, the increase in delivery demand is due to how hard several of the families have been impacted by the struggling economy. "When I started with the organization around 1991,1992 there was a lot of [food delivery demand]. However, things got better until the latest economic downturn," Rackowski said, adding that this is the trend in the entire state and the country.
The Washington Post reported that demand for food at pantries in the Washington, D.C. area is higher than ever, especially during the holiday season. Rackowski explained ACCA follows county guidelines for food distribution. Families receive a one-week supply of groceries and the portions are according to family size. The average size of a family is three to four people. Families requiring special needs are catered to and served to the best of ACCA's ability and a family may receive up to six deliveries a year. Rackowski said ACCA's goal is to tide people over from the time of job loss until the time that they are able to obtain unemployment services or get back on their feet.
During this time of year, several donations are made to the organization, which helps them manage the demand for food along with their staff of volunteers. The number of volunteers usually increases during the holidays. Rackowski trains all volunteers and they learn how to package the food for deliveries. Drivers also learn delivery protocol. With regards to ACCA volunteers, they come from all over (churches, schools, offices, families) and all age groups. Volunteers are sent to Rackowski for training and they learn how to package the food for deliveries and delivery protocol if they are drivers.
Some organizations have stepped in to offer their assistance to the food banks and pantries to help combat the shortage. Dominion recently announced a $2 million donation to organizations in Virginia and 13 other states through grants from their EnergyShare program to aid homeless and families in need. The grants will help provide shelter or housing assistance. According to the press release, "donations will assist organizations including homeless shelters, shelters for abused women and programs to provide housing for low-income families. In many instances, grants will be used to make the shelters or housing units more energy efficient, thereby cutting the operating costs for the recipients."
The EnergyShare program is intended to help those families who are going through a crisis and have exhausted all other options for assistance. Over $600,00 in non-EnergyShare grants have been given to Virginia. The programs in Virginia in Fairfax County are Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services and Reston Interfaith Housing.