I recently ate at Shady Maple, a restaurant in Lancaster, PA. On the wall I noticed a hand carved picture of a barn raising that brought back childhood memories. My grandfather took me to several barn raisings where I experienced a warm feeling of community, knowing that no matter when tragedy struck, one was not alone. A barn is critical to a farmer’s success and after the barn was raised, there was always a wonderful feast that celebrated the accomplishment and riches produced by the land.
In a sense, the Capital Area Food Bank is similar to a barn -- a community gathering place that provides the opportunity to collect and distribute food to those in need.
The Capital Area Food Bank is a critical hub that distributes food from two food distribution centers – one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Lorton, VA. This year we distributed 30 million pounds of food, including 15 million pounds of fresh produce, to our more than 700 partner agencies.
We help feed over 478,000 people annually who live in the Washington metro area. But there are well over 640,000 people here in the Washington area living on the edge and not able to make ends meet.
In America, it is not distended bellies or sunken eyes. It is people living every day in crisis with the stress of not knowing where their next meal may be coming from or if they will have the money to pay for their rent or mortgage, for their water or heat or a child’s winter coat or shoes.
The face of hunger in America is changing – it is working folks, it is the middle class and the numbers are greatly increasing.
We are responding to this hunger crisis by constructing a greatly expanded 127,000 sq. ft. food distribution center which will be completed in June of 2012. It will enable us – over time – to double the amount of food and services we will be able to provide to our network of partner agencies and the community.
When I see children at our Kids Cafe sites eating a warm meal or when a father loses his job and yet is able to put food on the table, I am reminded of our mission’s reach and importance. It is these images of our neighbors struggling, and yet able to partake of their daily bread, that offer inspiration and hope for a better tomorrow. It is this coming together that the mission of the food bank is realized and we stand together as a people of faith.
Lynn J. Brantley is the President and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank and co-founded the food bank in 1980 as a faith-based nonprofit and was appointed executive director in 1988.