Although the Merrifield-based organization Food for Others delivers food year-round to 15 area food pantries and to nursing homes, the summer’s heat can hamper the kinds of foods that Food for Others distributes. Besides not having enough warehouse coolers to store the food, spoilage can occur.
“A lot of heat prevents us from distributing milk and eggs,” said Linda Atwell, Food for Others’ general manager.
While many area charities struggle for funding and volunteer staffing during the slow summer months, the hot and humid summer climate of Washington can also bring about its own set of challenges. Besides concerns for spoilage and dehydration, some organizations serving the homeless and low-income populations also witness an increase in the people they serve.
Linda Wimpey of Facets, a Fairfax-based organization serving low-income people and families, is one of those people whose organization sees more people needing their services during the summer months. Although Wimpey, Facets’ founder and executive director, didn’t know why there tended to be an increase, she had two theories. If a landlord has issues with a tenant, the landlord is more likely to evict people in the summer than in the winter, Wimpey said. People who are transient also tend to move a lot more in the summer. Because their children aren’t in school, they can move to be closer to jobs, Wimpey added.
The need for in-kind and financial donations remains constant throughout the summer, whatever the size of the population that Facets serves.
ACROSS TOWN, Food for Others also sees a summer increase, but Atwell said she didn’t know the reason why.
“I think the unemployment situation remains the same, regardless of the season,” Atwell said.
But even those organizations that don’t see an increase have their own summer-specific concerns. Besides sometimes needing to cover for volunteers who go on vacation, dehydration is a summertime issue for Steve Schlossberg, director for the Lamb Center, a day shelter for the homeless and low-income.
“Some of the people we serve live outside,” Schlossberg said.
Although the Lamb Center needs more bottled water during the summer, Schlossberg added that the center's wish list for items such as butter, cream cheese and laundry detergent doesn’t fluctuate throughout the year.
“We go through paper products like crazy around here,” Schlossberg said.