Each morning cars line up on East Market Street in Leesburg in hopes of picking up free meals in the parking lot of a vacant building. Organized by the all-volunteer Ampersand Pantry Project, the effort launched in early April.
This week, it will hit an unexpected milestone, with 10,000 lunches—along with about 25,000 diapers—having been handed out.
“I’ve been quite surprised by two things: the remarkable number of people in need who have availed themselves and their children of our lunches; and the remarkable amount of community support for our efforts,” founder Peter Burnett wrote in a recent update to the project’s contributors.
It also has become evident that the need will continue even after businesses begin the gradual reopening process. Organizers want to continue the work and are hoping more businesses and individuals can contribute to the effort. “One idea that has gained traction is asking businesses to ‘take a day,’ which is about a $1,500 cost,” Burnett wrote. “Several have and it has helped a lot. We hope more will sign up.”
Meals are served on a first-come, first served basis starting at 11:30 a.m. at 338 E. Market St., across from the McDonald’s, through a drive-through window on the back of the building.
Burnett can be reached through his Leesburg law office as 703-777-1650. Donations also may be made through the Ampersand Pantry Project page at gofundme.com.