Loudoun leaders will take a comprehensive look at the scale of food insecurity in the county during the annual Hunger Summit next Friday at the school administration building in Ashburn.
This year’s theme is “Together at the Table.”
“Its goal is to be a catalyst to spur more networking and partnerships, to give a window on what’s going on nationally, regionally and locally, and to see how to improve on what is already working well,” said Amy Owen, executive director of the Community Foundation of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.
The phrase “food insecurity” deals with the problem of not having enough food to eat on a consistent basis. The issue has been a top concern of area human service groups for decades, even as the county has ranked among the nation’s wealthiest each year.
The summit is a partnership between the Community Foundation of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties and Loudoun Hunger and has its roots in the work of the Church of the Latter-day Saints.
“They asked us to take on that role,” Owen said. “We hope ultimately to build networks among food providers—faith-based pantries, back pack buddy programs, etc.”
Loudoun Hunger Relief Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery, who will assist as moderator during the program, said the summit would address the problem from a number of perspectives.
“We want to look at things happening locally, and ideas for different collaborations—such as food for college students,” Montgomery said. She cited her organization’s partnership with Northern Virginia Community College to provide food for students at its Sterling campus as an example of new community efforts to address often hidden needs.
Speakers include Carey Calvert of Feeding America, who will discuss how national hunger policies affect those at the local level. There will be speakers from food banks and food providers who present trends and data.
Pastor Ben Slye, from Maryland, will talk about the national movement to partner with food pantries to support low-income college students. Real Food for Kids Executive Director Jenny Hein will discuss the need for good nutrition for children. Her organization began a collaboration with Loudoun and Fairfax public schools earlier this year to provide more fresh foods in cafeterias.
Dr. Janine Rethy, from the Loudoun County Department of Public Health, will discuss her research on food stamps. About 50 percent of those who qualify for food stamps don’t use the program, and Rethy is trying to discover why.
HealthWorks Executive Director Carol Jameson will focus on the social determinants of health. She is working with Montgomery on possibly installing a small food pantry at the HealthWorks office in Leesburg.
To attend the summit, register by Tuesday by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 703-779-3505. Sign in is at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, with the program starting at 10 a.m.
For more information and a full list of speakers, go to communityfoundationlf.org.