Loudoun Hunger Relief staff members and volunteers gathered with other community leaders at the food pantry’s Leesburg headquarters Wednesday to celebrate the latest expansion of its services.
The new Mobile Market will operate as a pantry-on-wheels, taking LHR’s emergency grocery services into neighborhoods where residents have high need and limited access to transportation.
The 18-foot truck is outfitted with refrigeration, a freezer, and food shelving filled with boxed and canned food, fresh vegetables, milk, eggs, rice, beans and other staples that are assembled to provide families with weekly meal packs.
Seed funding to purchase the truck was provided by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation.The project also was made possible by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant, grants from 100WomenStrong and the Sterling Women Giving Circle, and many individual and family donors. Also, expenses for the first year of the Mobile Market operations will be covered a grant from the Dulles Greenway Drive for Charity.
LHR Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery said the mobile service will be a big help to Loudoun families. She shared a story of a Sterling mother who called to cancel her appointment to pick up supplies at the Leesburg food pantry because she and her husband needed to save the gas in their car so they could go to their jobs.
“Transportation is a huge issue in this county,” she said.“These are the hard choices families are making every day.”
“This will go to where folks are and that is really why we did this,” Montgomery said of the mobile pantry.
K. Lynn Tadlock, deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, recalled one of the frequent sayings of Dr. Moore, the Sterling physician and real estate investor who left his estate to support education, children and families, “Give them a leg up, not a handout.”
“We believe this truck truly does that,” she said.
“A community working together can solve all your human service needs,” she said. “Part of every nonprofit in any community mission should be bringing people together to embrace a common goal and improve the lives of our neighbors.”
Details regarding mobile service schedule will be posted on loudounhunger.org in the near future. It is expected to get its first roll out in the Sterling area, with 30-40 families being served on each trip.
So far in 2019, Loudoun Hunger Relief has served more than 6,000 residents with emergency groceries from the Leesburg pantry location. About 40 percent of the individuals served are children under 18, and another 13 percent are senior adults. More than 1.2 million pounds of food has been distributed.