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The Bus Was Stuffed

Local food pantries receive record donations from 2nd annual Stuff the Bus campaign.

Michael Artson, chief planner with the County’s Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Department, shows his appreciation for the record amount of donations when the bus was parked at the McLean Giant.

Michael Artson, chief planner with the County’s Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Department, shows his appreciation for the record amount of donations when the bus was parked at the McLean Giant. Photo Contributed

Food Totals for Stuff the Bus Campaign

January 16

Mount Vernon Plaza Shoppers Food Warehouse - 7660 Richmond Highway, Alexandria

1,320 pounds of food was collected and donated to United Community Ministries.

January 21

Vienna Giant - 359 Maple Avenue East, Vienna

1,198 pounds of food was collected and donated to Committee for Helping Others.

Village Center at Dulles Shoppers Food Warehouse - 2425 Centreville Road, Herndon

1,907 pounds of food was collected and donated to Reston Interfaith.

January 28

Fox Mill Giant - 2551 John Milton Drive, Herndon

1,746 pounds of food was collected and donated to Helping Hungry Kids.

Lorton Giant

8941 Ox Road, Lorton - 2,158 pounds of food was collected and donated to Lorton Community Action Center.

February 4

McLean Giant - 1454 Chain Bridge Road, McLean

6,221 pounds of food was collected and donated to Share, Inc.

Clifton Giant

5740 Union Mill Road, Clifton

3,487 pounds of food was collected and donated to Western Fairfax Christian Ministries.

February 11

Fair City Mall Shoppers Food Warehouse - 9622 Main Street, Fairfax

2,708 pounds of food was collected and donated to Food for Others.

Kingstowne Giant - 5870 Kingstowne Blvd., Alexandria

1,574 pounds of food was collected and donated to Koinonia Foundation.

February 18

Fair City Mall Shoppers Food Warehouse - 9622 Main Street, Fairfax

2,009 pounds of food was collected and donated to Our Daily Bread.

Seven Corners Center Shoppers Food Warehouse - 6360 Seven Corners Center, Falls Church

1,274 pounds of food was collected and donated to Falls Church Community Service Council.

Fairfax County’s second annual Stuff the Bus campaign roared to the finish line last week, collecting more than 25,604 pounds of food and $3,483 – a 26 percent increase in food, and a 236 percent increase in cash over 2011 totals.

All donations went directly to local nonprofit organizations that help feed needy families and individuals in the Fairfax-Falls Church Community.

"The residents of Fairfax and our partners, like MV Transportation and Frank & Co., have really come out in support of the food pantries this year," said Michael Artson, chief planner with the County’s Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Department, one of the food drive’s organizers.

The annual campaign is a partnership between NCS, Fairfax County’s Office of Public Private Partnerships (OP3) and MV Transportation Inc., which operates the FASTRAN buses and provides volunteers, as well as local grocery store chains Giant and Shoppers Food Warehouse.

"In our first year, 2011, we collected more than 20,000 pounds of food valued at more than $34,000; the total value of the food, goods and services donated by all the public and private partners was valued at more than $56,000," said Patricia Stevens, executive director of OP3.

She said the "Stuff the Bus" campaign is intentionally scheduled between Martin Luther King Day in January and Presidents Day in February, because donations typically decrease during the first few months of the new year, after the seasonal dose of good will.

Many Fairfax County pantries, including Our Daily Bread, FACETS, the Lorton Action Community Center and Food for Others, report that during the fall and holiday season, food pantries are stocked and brimming with donations from the community.

"But by February, our supplies are often running low even though the need for food is greater than ever," said Lisa Whetzel, executive director of Our Daily Bread in Fairfax.

She said ODB collected 2,000 pounds of food and more than $500 in cash and grocery cards when Stuff the Bus was parked at Shoppers Food Warehouse at Fair City Mall on Feb. 18, and much of the food went directly to clients the next day.