Hunger does not take a vacation in the summer, which is why the nonprofit organization FACETS is busy making sure children in the Centreville community Barros Circle have enough to eat.
FACETS combats the effects of hunger and homelessness year round and is in full swing meeting the needs of children who cannot get food during the summer. FACETS sets up shop in community centers in four locations across Fairfax County during the summer — Robinson Square and Regan Oaks in Fairfax, Wedgewood in Annandale, and Barros Circle in Centreville.
The FACETS program in Barros Circle is struggling to provide lunch to low-income children. The Centreville program serves about 8-15 youths on a given day, while the other locations can serve up to 40 youths. The other three locations, providing for a larger number of children, qualify for county support — Fairfax County provides lunch to the other locations through a catering service. However, Barros Circle does not.
Food donations are less in the summer, and FACET’s food pantries are not as well-stocked. Faith-based organizations make up the bulk of the donations for the Barros Circle program.
“In the summer, there’s definitely a need,” said Brenda Dushko, director of development for FACETS, about the lack of food donations this summer for Barros Circle, “Our ability to share wealth with the community is impacted.”
Joe Fay, executive director of FACETS, stresses that food scarcity and homelessness for low-income families has no season. “Everyone thinks about food-need during the holidays, but it’s really a year-round need,” Fay said.
FACETS’ lunch provisions are not a grab-and-go scene – the organization runs something of a day camp where children can engage in creative and educational activities while their parents are at work.
During the school year, FACETS mentors children after school. During the summer, its programs fill the gap that school usually occupies. A high percentage of children that attend FACETS’ summer programs get support from free and reduced lunches during the year — another tally in recognition of the importance of providing lunch to children during the summer. “We catch the kids that fall through the cracks,” Fay said.
Both Fay and Dushko emphasized that the need for food and other provisions for low-income families is consistent year round, but is exacerbated during the summer. Fairfax County is an expensive place to live, work, and raise children. Donations and food drives can help FACETS keep its pantries stocked and ready to tackle hunger. “We’re very grassroots,” Dushko said. The organization’s founding in 1988 is rooted in serving hot meals to families in need.
FACETS hopes to aid families so that their children find themselves in a better situation as they go forward with their lives. Fay and Dushko hope the community does not forget areas like Barros Circle that have a heightened need for food during the summer months.
To make a donation, go to www.facetscares.org and click “Donate.” Donations specified for the Barros Circle day camp will go towards providing lunches for these Centreville youths. Donations can also be sent through the mail to 10640 Page Avenue, Suite 300, Fairfax, VA 22030.