The annual Boy Scout Food Drive for Western Fairfax Christian Ministries is Saturday and, as always, the WFCM is counting on the generosity of the local community to help it provide for people in need.
"We have approximately 300 families that come to us each month for food," said WFCM food pantry volunteer Mary Feeney. "And these families are composed of 1,163 to 1,200 people." After the food drive, she said, "We hope to provide them with one week's worth of groceries."
WFCM OFFERS food, clothing and financial assistance to local families in need. These families are in Centreville, Chantilly and Clifton so, by contributing food to them during Saturday's drive, local residents are really helping their neighbors.
"We give full bags of groceries," said Feeney. "They include one boxed or canned meal, [hearty] soups loaded with meat and vegetables and as many canned vegetables as possible."
But she has to limit tomato items to one can per family member. "Because of our demographics, we have cultures that use a large amount of tomato products," she explained. "So if we get in two cases of tomato products and I don't put a limit on them, they could be gone in a couple hours."
The USDA used to provide WFCM with cooking oil, but it has not done so, for the past four months, so cooking oil is needed. And with the holidays coming, said Feeney, flour and sugar in 2- to 5-pound bags are also needed.
She hopes to receive coffee and tea, as well as garbanzo beans, dried or canned pinto beans, kidney and black beans and black-eyed peas. "Kidney beans are used by so many cultures that I only have six cans left," she said on Monday. Pork and beans, baked beans and chili are also popular items, as are child-friendly, canned-pasta meals.
Macaroni and cheese mixes, dry pasta and lots of jam and jelly are good choices for the food-drive bags, as well. Said Feeney: "It's mind-boggling how much is needed."
Hygiene products such as toilet paper, soap and size 6 diapers are in demand and, said Feeney, "There's always a shortage of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, Baby Wipes and lotions."
The Boy Scouts distributed empty bags to local homes last Saturday and will return, this coming Saturday, to collect them. The filled bags should be placed outside by 8 or 9 a.m.
"This is such a big help to these families," said Feeney. "And it shows tremendous spirit in the community that we react and come together. There is a definite need, and we really thank each individual donor — it is tremendously appreciated."