Karen Joseph, Co-founder and Executive Director of Food For Neighbors, accepted the donation. With the help of Food For Neighbors Area Manager, Liz Campbell, she also recognized the Sprouts partnership with a plaque and invited Block and his staff to participate in the Nov. 6 Red Bag Program food collection event.
“We are thrilled to have the continued support from Sprouts,” shared Joseph. “Sprouts’ steadfast generosity has enabled Food For Neighbors to continue making a direct, positive impact on area students. It also has allowed programming to expand to support more schools and their students.”
Food For Neighbors has provided over 207,000 pounds of food to Northern Virginia students.
Now in its fifth year of serving Northern Virginia, Food For Neighbors has grown from helping students at Herndon Middle School and Herndon High School to supporting students in 24 schools in Fairfax County and Loudoun County. The nonprofit will use the awarded funding to support its premier Red Bag Program, which impacts approximately 1,400 students weekly. This program mobilizes individuals to shop for nonperishable items at their convenience and to set them on their doorsteps for collection five times per year. Volunteers organized by neighborhoods then collect the food and bring it to central locations, where it is sorted and then delivered to participating schools.
At the schools, volunteers package the food, and social workers, counselors, and/or parent liaisons distribute the packages to students on a weekly basis. While the first food event collected over 550 pounds of food from 60 Herndon area households, Food For Neighbors now has over 1,500 neighbors registered to donate food and over 1,000 volunteers signed up to help collect, sort, and deliver it.
As of September, 2021, the most recent Red Bag Program food collection event, Food For Neighbors has provided over 207,000 pounds of food to Northern Virginia students.
In response to great need, Food For Neighbors also has established additional programs, which work together to battle food insecurity. In addition to the Red Bag Program, the nonprofit has a Pantry Program that provides shelving and other related food storage and distribution support items for school pantries, and it has a Holiday Meals Program that gives extra help in the form of food gift boxes and/or grocery store gift cards distributed near the Thanksgiving holiday. Food For Neighbors also has a Grocery Gift Card Program that, in addition to enabling school staff to reach vulnerable students in an easy, COVID-safe manner, allows students and their families to shop for their most-needed food, including ethnic foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. A new Toiletry Program will complement existing programs by giving students access to important personal care and hygiene items.
By distributing food through schools, Food For Neighbors provides easy access to a reliable, nutritious food source. Removing the obstacle of hunger adds immensely to the quality of life of students, who then have the opportunity to focus on their education and relationships. With less pressure to work long hours to provide for themselves and/or their families, students can remain in school. While there, they are also better able to stay focused, as hunger is not interfering with higher thinking. Food For Neighbors empowers children to live healthy lives, where they may thrive and succeed in school. Longer term, being better students helps them become successful members of the community, which lifts up everyone.
Food For Neighbors welcomes donations of food, volunteer support, and financial contributions to continue its important mission of ending child hunger by raising awareness and community involvement. There are many ways for businesses, service organizations, foundations, and individuals to become involved. To learn more, please visit https://www.foodforneighbors.org/