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Capital Area Food Bank Mobilizes to Keep Feeding Children and Families as Area Schools Close Due to COVID-19

By cafb March 13, 2020

In the face of school closures in all DC, Maryland, and Virginia public schools due to COVID-19 concerns, the Capital Area Food Bank is changing its normal operations, including program locations and food distribution format, in order to continue providing help for thousands of kids and families.

Washington, DC – March 13, 2020 – In the face of school closures in all DC, Maryland, and Virginia public schools due to COVID-19 concerns, the Capital Area Food Bank is changing its normal operations, including program locations and food distribution format, in order to continue providing help for thousands of kids and families.

The food bank’s direct service programs for children in DC; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; and northern Virginia that are primarily hosted in close to 100 schools and associated after care programs. They provide after-school meal distribution, bags of food for the weekend, and free school-based food markets. Due to concerns about COVID-19, the schools and after-school centers where these programs are hosted will be closed through March 27 in Maryland and Virginia, and April 1 in DC.

To ensure these programs can continue to provide a critical source of nutrition for children and families, the food bank is swiftly adjusting its operations at locations in affected regions.

“Even in these challenging and uncertain times, one thing we all know for sure is that food is essential for every single person,” said Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank. “The Capital Area Food Bank has the scale and infrastructure to respond in times of emergency, and we’re committed to continuing our service to our region’s kids, families, and all who may need help in the days and weeks ahead of us.”

Prioritizing ease of access for kids and parents or caregivers, the food bank is working with all of its program locations to either continue distributing meals outside at existing sites, or to work with community partners to distribute food at nearby locations.

The food bank will also adjust the types of food that it provides through its programs, and the way in which it is packaged. The food bank’s After School Meals program, which normally provides children with a hot supper on site, will instead provide a cool to-go meal that can be quickly picked up and eaten at home. At the food bank’s in-school market programs, which ordinarily allows parents and children to choose from among different foods in a free school-based market setting, food will instead will be provided in a pre-bagged or boxed set of shelf stable items to allow for social distancing at the point of pickup. And the bags of food that are usually sent home with kids through the food bank’s Weekend Bag program will double in quantity to reduce trips to program locations.

These shifts in distribution are part of broader emergency changes that the food bank is making to how it will provide food for the coming weeks. All food, whether distributed through its network of 450+ nonprofit partners or directly to individuals, will now be distributed in boxes and bags containing multiple shelf stable food items rather than individual items in order to allow for social distancing.

As the area’s largest hunger relief organization, the Capital Area Food Bank has significant regional infrastructure and storage capacity that can be mobilized quickly to assist those who may be in need of food, whether due to supply chain interruptions, inability to leave the home due to illness, inadequate funds to purchase food for multiple weeks, or other factors.

In anticipation of increased need throughout the region, the food bank has brought in additional food, and is coordinating with emergency preparedness authorities across the metropolitan area to leverage its storage and distribution capabilities if needed.

Those who wish to support the food bank at this time can assist by making financial donations, and by volunteering at its distribution center, where special precautions are being taken to enable social distancing and robust hygiene practices.

About the Capital Area Food Bank:

Now commemorating our 40th anniversary year, the Capital Area Food Bank works to address hunger today and create brighter futures tomorrow for the nearly half a million people across the region experiencing food insecurity. As the anchor in the area’s hunger relief infrastructure, we provide over 30 million meals to people in need each year by supplying food to 450+ nonprofit organizations, including Martha’s Table, SOME – So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, Food for Others, Manna, and others. Through these partnerships, the food bank supports 10 percent of our region’s mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandparents.

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