The Arlington Food Assistance Center has been exploring ways to serve hungry families in Arlington by partnering with local businesses and larger corporations.
To that end, AFAC recently started Sponsor Purchased Food, a program through which corporations can buy produce, package it and donate it to AFAC as a team-building exercise.
“That helps us in a lot of different ways,” said AFAC executive director Charles Meng. “It certainly gets our name out in the public more. It engenders a donation. And it involves a lot of individuals who then tend to become donors once they find out what we do.”
Meng says the program has been “very successful,” with over 50 corporations participating in the past few months. AFAC plans to continue the program well into next year.
Currently, AFAC serves 2,100 families in the area and dispenses about 86,000 pounds of food per week at 18 distribution sites across Arlington. According to Meng, the number of people AFAC serves has doubled since 2013 and is currently increasing at a rate of about 25 families per month.
Last Friday, July 24, AFAC and Spotluck, a Bethesda company that created an app to connect people with local restaurants, worked together to put on a potluck dinner for 130 Arlington residents in need at the Gates of Ballston apartment complex (4108 4th Street N.)
Twenty-two restaurants around Arlington donated food to the potluck, including Sushi Rock, Don Tito, The Boulevard Woodgrill, Faccia Luna and Whitlow’s on Wilson.
Meng said that the event with Spotluck — documented in the video above — was a success.
“All of those restaurants [that donated] did a fantastic job, and the Spotluck people were really great to work with, and they were really enthusiastic,” said Meng. “When people actually get a chance to hand out food to somebody and see the people they’re helping, it gets the message across a lot easier and a lot more directly to the individual, so it’s really great to have a company like Spotluck working with us.”
Currently, about half of AFAC’s money and food come from individual donations. Of the remaining 50 percent, about eight percent comes from Arlington County, 10 percent come from local religious congregations and the rest come from local businesses, foundations and larger corporations.
“We’ve got tremendous support from a lot of the businesses here in Arlington,” said Meng.
Photos courtesy AFAC. Disclosure: Spotluck is an ARLnow.com advertiser.