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As Recession Lingers, AFAC Hits All-Time High

by ARLnow.com — September 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm 2,027 12 Comments

The Arlington Food Assistance Center reached an all-time high number of families served last week, a dubious milestone the organization attributes to the on-going recession.

AFAC served 1572 families, or 4006 individuals, last week. The previous high was hit on Nov. 21, 2009, when AFAC served 1524 families during its traditionally busy Thanksgiving distribution week. Last month, AFAC saw its highest average monthly number of families served: 1450.

“Most of the individuals, I would say, are affected by the recession,” AFAC Executive Director Charles Meng told ARLnow.com. “The issue remains that unemployment among the lower income brackets in Arlington County is still very high. Those individuals are still not finding jobs, or are getting jobs that pay minimum wage.”

Meng said that while Arlington’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, the relative prosperity has not trickled down to lower-income individuals, who are having a hard time finding full-time employment that pays the bills. According to Meng, it takes a wage of about $12.50 to $13.00 per hour to live in Arlington.

“Rents are high and the price of various commodities are higher here than elsewhere,” he said. “We do see some of our clients getting jobs, but they’re not full time and they’re not at a living wage for Arlington County.”

While previous growth in the number of individuals served by AFAC came from senior citizens, Meng says the latest growth came from an increase in families utilizing AFAC’s S. Nelson Street, Clarendon and Gunston distribution sites. The organization operates about a dozen distribution sites around the county.

The good news, according to an AFAC press release, is that donations are increasing.

“Food donations are beginning to increase with the start of the school year and cash donations are on the rise,” the organization said. “Both should continue to increase through the holidays.”

Meng said AFAC can meet current demand, but added: “We can always use donations.”

  • charlie

    everyone who complains/drivels on ARLNOW should donate a can of food a day to AFAC. Or one months grocery bill (including take out).
    we are lucky to live here. let us help others.

    • Ricardo

      Truly, truly lucky. I’m so glad that when my lottery number came up, it said “Arlington.”

    • TGEoA

      Screw that. I’ll donate it to Prince William county if they go live there instead

      • drax

        I’ll donate something for you to go live somewhere else, TGEoA.

  • Stu Pendus

    I find this very concerning. Apparently over the summer the fuse that feeds the heated seats in my Jag blew, and this week it has been very uncomfortable driving in the morning. I need to find a service shop in Arlington, but this news of high unemployment among those folk makes me wonder if I need to drive all the way to Falls Church for my repairs.

    • charlie

      that isn’t a result of unemployment but of over density and the jag dealer is now gone. plus isn’t that an Indian car now?

  • Steve

    12-13.50 an hour to live in Arlington? Clearly they aren’t pay the rent I’ve got, which is considered a great deal.

    • drax

      Yes, clearly you are out of touch.

  • JimPB

    AFAC appears to have helped more than 2% of the ArlCo population.

    Economic need and hunger are problems. Thanks, Scott, for this piece and the reminder it offers that there are a lot of folks (including children) in ArlCo who are at a polar end from those who are working at above average compensation and have a super abundance of food to eat, choice wines to drink and heated car seats in their array of vehicles — and more of the comforts and luxuries of life.

  • BerryBerryCold

    But…BusinessWeek says we have the lowest unemployment of cities they ranked, and according to them 2/3 of our population (which would include everyone 0-infinity) have college degrees.

    How could this be?

    • drax

      Um, that leaves 1/3rd without degrees. You have a degree, figure it out.

  • Pingback: Strange Dichotomy: Arlington Has A Lot, But Some Local Families Don’t Have Enough « Arlington Unwrapped

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