As 2015 closes, I am grateful for your support of the Dulles South Food Pantry (DSFP). It is my good fortune, and blessing, to have been the President of the DSFP since it opened in June 2014. New volunteers frequently hear during orientation that volunteering at DSFP is my antidote to watching the news. The Pantry displays the very best of humanity. The gifts of time, talent, food and money, freely offered by volunteers and supporters, are beautiful to witness. The gratitude, perseverance, and grace of the Pantry’s guests, in the face of sometimes overwhelming challenges, are equally beautiful.
A child recently touched my heart as he visited us for the first time with his parents. When it was his family’s turn at the self-select table, he was disappointed that all the canned ravioli had already been taken by other guests. I hated to see his heartbroken face, so I slipped into the other room and found another one for him. A simple can of beef ravioli filled this little boy’s face with joy. I am glad that this family was ableto come to the DSFP for help. I am glad the little boy went home with food and a smile.
Thanks to the generous donations of time, money and food by our supporters, DSFP continues to grow in its ability to help those in need in Dulles South. Guests without transportation to the Pantry are now being offered rides by a local church. The Pantry’s new Friday Food Packs Program is providing weekly bags for nearly 90 students at 8 schools so they won’t be hungry over the weekend. Arcola United Methodist church, where we are housed, generously gave us more space so that we could expand our fresh food capacity, provide healthier options for our guests, and make room for newly donated freezers and refrigerators. The pantry has partnered with several local schools to reduce waste by implementing food recovery programs where uneaten food is collected and donated to the Pantry. Since, the school year began in September, six local schools have recovered over 2500 pounds and donated it to the DSFP.
During the last quarter of 2015, the Pantry averaged more than 75 families at each of its twice monthly food distributions. Our special Thanksgiving distributions reached 114 families and 530 people. So far in 2015, the Pantry has given out more than 95,000 pounds of food, we have served over 200 families, more than 900 individuals, and more than half are children and seniors. Nearly 400 volunteers have donated more than 6000 hours of time. Our slogan, “Neighbors Feeding Neighbors,” truly embodies what we do.
Upcoming in 2016, volunteers are planning something special to celebrate the second anniversary of the DSFP. We are also working to expand the Pantry’s focus on supporting our guests’ self-sufficiency. We can use your help to continue the great work of the DSFP into next year.
In this season of giving, please consider donating to support our work. You may also send a check payable to the Dulles South Food Pantry, Inc., 24757 Evergreen Mills Road, Dulles, VA 20152.
On behalf of everyone at the pantry, I wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and thank you for your generous support.
Charlene Stoker Jones, President