Arlington, VA

Garden space at Arlington Public Schools is being used to grow produce for local pantries.

When schools closed for the academic year in March, the seeds were planted for victory gardens to grow in the place of classroom gardens.

Now, fresh produce like lettuce, peppers and tomatoes fill soil at Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Hoffman-Boston Elementary and Tuckahoe Elementary.

APS is partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) and Virginia Tech’s Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension to maintain these gardens and organize volunteers.

“The community response has been amazing,” Emily Landsman, an FOUA board member, said in a press release. “The garden coordinators and school communities wanted to continue growing even though the schools were closed. To date, we have recruited over 70 volunteers and several Master Gardeners to assist the APS Garden Coordinators, and have donated over 500 pounds of fresh produce.”

The gardens were created as food pantries face the loss of key volunteers and the D.C. region sees increasing amounts of people in hunger as the area’s economy struggles.

FOUA’s goal is to grow 2,500 pounds of produce to donate to local food pantries. Area pantries where food is being donated include those at Bon Air Baptist Church and Columbia Baptist Church.

Local pantries have also received over 2,500 pounds of fresh produce from growing efforts in residential neighborhoods, churches and schools, according to FOUA.

For those who want to donate, Rock Spring Congregational church accepts produce donations on Mondays and Thursdays from noon-2 p.m. and Clarendon Presbyterian Church is holding a monthly food drive to help Arlington’s homeless population.

FOUA is currently seeking experienced volunteers to help in the gardens for one to four hours a week.

Photos via Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture

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Morning Notes

Reopening Starts Today — Arlington and Northern Virginia is starting Phase 1 of a gradual reopening of the regional economy today. You’ll be able to dine outside, get a haircut, and shop at non-essential businesses, with restrictions. Additionally, starting today, Virginia is requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Face coverings are also required in ART buses. [Arlington County, Arlington Transit]

Local Leaders Promote Mask Usage — Leaders of Northern Virginia’s local governments, including Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, star in a new video encouraging the use of masks as the region reopens. [YouTube]

Arlington Orgs Providing Food During Pandemic — “Since May 1, CHFA volunteers have delivered 6,174 meals to homebound COVID-19 positive patients and immunocompromised clients, with plans to provide an additional 14,000 meals over the next two months, in partnership with Jeffrey’s Catering. Since the state of emergency declaration on March 15, referrals to AFAC increased by 36 percent, from 3,606 individuals to 4,902 on May 10.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Holding Graduation Parade — “On Friday afternoon, members of Marymount University’s graduating class will celebrate their accomplishments through a Graduation Parade, with faculty and staff cheering them on along a four-mile route that loops between Main Campus and the Ballston Center.” [Press Release]

Local Snakes Face Sticky Situation — “Our Animal Control officers are always on hand to help animals in need, even the scaly ones! Today we got a call that 2 snakes were stuck to a glue trap. Sgt Ballena and Officer Citrone worked hard to gently un-stick the snakes and release them safely nearby.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

ARLnow Receives Google Grant — ARLnow has received a modest grant from Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. The grant will allow ARLnow to host a paid intern this summer. The pandemic has negatively affected ARLnow’s business, and at the same time has also caused a shortage of internships nationwide. We’re grateful for Google helping us to offer an internship to a promising young journalist.

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Under normal times, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) teams up with the National Association of Letter Carriers for a large food drive event called Stamp Out Hunger, which is held on the 2nd Saturday of every May.

Residents would leave food donations by their mailboxes and postal workers would pick up the food and deliver it to AFAC. On average, around 25,000 pounds of food donations is collected in this one-day event.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Stamp Out Hunger event was canceled. However, the need for food in the community is at an all-time high. AFAC has seen a 30% increase in active referrals since the end of February. More and more new families are seeking help in addition to the thousands of families AFAC already serves.

Through the month of May, you can help AFAC feed our neighbors in need in several ways. You can donate canned food (tomato products, vegetables, tuna and soups) and peanut butter at a local AFAC collection box set up in the community. Please do not donate food that is perishable, opened, expired or in glass jars.

You can also host a food drive in your own neighborhood. Register your food drive to request an AFAC food drive box if you would like one. There are template food drive flyers available that you can use and distribute digitally to help you get started.

Lastly, you can also donate funds so AFAC can purchase food (fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, eggs, frozen chicken, beans, rice, pasta and oatmeal) in bulk directly from vendors at wholesale prices.

For more information, visit www.afac.org/stamp-out-hunger-2020.

Note: This sponsored post was donated by ARLnow.

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Morning Notes

County May Get Million from CARES Act — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam “is considering a plan to distribute $3 billion of CARES cash using a formula that considers in economic need, a way to send more money to places like Lee County or Petersburg and less money to places like Alexandria and Arlington.” [@MichaelLeePope/Twitter, WVTF]

Arlington Trail Usage Way Up — “Trail counts are up 50% above average, on the weekends. Try an alternative route. Protect yourself and others by avoiding crowded trails.” [@BikeArlington/Twitter]

Dems Hold County Board Forum — Blue Virginia has video and notes from Sunday’s County Board special election candidates forum, held by Arlington Democrats. [Blue Virginia]

ACPD: Man Threw Brick Through Car Window — “At approximately 12:10 p.m. on April 30, police were dispatched to the report of destruction of property just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving on Columbia Pike when the suspect allegedly threw a brick through the rear window of the vehicle, causing it to shatter. The victim was not injured. Arriving officers located the suspect in the area and took him into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Faculty Member Makes ‘Fashion Masks’ — “Marymount University faculty member William Allen, an award-winning fashion designer, is using his creative talents and those of his students to help boost the amount of crucial PPE available at the Arlington Free Clinic.” [Press Release]

Sen. Kaine Volunteering at AFAC Today — “On Monday, May 4, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will visit the Arlington Food Assistance Center, where he will meet with staff, tour the center, and volunteer to distribute food. The center has seen increasing demand amid the coronavirus pandemic and currently distributes groceries to over 2,400 families each week in Arlington.”

TSA Workers Create Food Bank at DCA — “Transportation Security Administration employees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) have established a free food and toiletries pantry to assist employees in the airport community who have been laid off or seen their work hours and paychecks reduced due to the significant decrease in travelers as a result of the pandemic.” [Press Release]

Photo courtesy @EthanDevries_/Twitter

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A pair of local nonprofits have joined with Amazon to help families in Arlington’s affordable housing get access to science, technology, engineering and math resources during the pandemic.

Rosie Riveters, an Arlington-based non-profit that focuses on getting girls between 4-14 years old interested in STEM, partnered with Arlington Housing Corporation (AHC) Inc. — a local affordable housing nonprofit — and Amazon to deliver STEM kits to some families. These are kits put together by Rosie Riveters and include the materials for six different projects, access to online lessons, and additional materials like notebooks, pencils and rulers.

Rosie Riveters said Amazon donated gift cards and the supplies to assemble the kits, as well as helped to deliver them to AHC.

An initial 15 kits were given out in the first round, with 30 more planned to be delivered over the next few weeks, Rosie Riveters told ARLnow, adding that the boxes are delivered with Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) distributions.

Eight boxes were also sent to community center participants and the supplies for 60 more boxes will be delivered over the next few days and distributed to other program partners.

“Rosie Riveters is proud to work with Amazon and AHC Inc. to bring fun and engaging STEM kits and essential learning materials to children in need,” said Brittany Greer, Executive Director of Rosie Riveters, in a statement. “Now more than ever enrichment opportunities like these are vitally important. We can not thank Amazon enough for helping to provide the resources and logistics needed to allow Rosie Riveters to continue our mission to engage and inspire girls aged 4-14 in STEM.”

Photo courtesy Rosie Riveters

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Morning Notes

Blind Triplets Have Coronavirus — “The blind Virginia triplets who defied the odds and made history when they became Eagle Scouts in 2017 are facing another challenge. All three young men have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 and their father is praying they continue to beat the odds.” [WUSA 9]

Wakefield Seniors to Get Yard Signs, Too — “Through donations from teachers, alumni, and community members, every senior gets a yard sign!” [Twitter]

New Food Drop-off Boxes in Ballston — “FLARE, an electric shuttle service, has partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to collect and deliver food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) every Friday beginning on April 24.” [Press Release]

CPRO Hosting Biz Listening Session This AM — “Our speakers will discuss the challenges local small businesses are facing as well as the opportunities that have arisen and the resources available to assist our business community, including financial assistance.” [Zoom]

Civ Fed Backs Crystal City Growth Plan — “Delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on April 21 agreed to support efforts by three civic associations adjacent to Amazon’s new HQ2 in providing a road map for handling growth in the corridor. The resolution, which garnered support from more than 80 percent of voting delegates during an online meeting, puts the Civic Federation behind the ‘Livability 22202’ action plan.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Wants Help for State, Local Gov’ts — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), during House Floor debate on the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, urged his colleagues to send urgently-needed federal aid to state and local governments on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release, Twitter]

Clarendon Cafe Delivers Coffee to First Responders — “A Turkish small business owner is giving free coffee to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus in the US state of Virginia. East West Coffee Wine, which has been opened in Arlington County since 2017, says it is now time to give back to those ‘who are tirelessly working to protect us.'” [Anadolu Agency]

Video: Talking Small Biz with Scott Parker — “ARLnow talked with Scott Parker — of Don Tito, BASH Boxing, Bearded Goat Barber and other local businesses — about the state of local business in Arlington during the coronavirus pandemic.” [Facebook]

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The Arlington Community Foundation has provided more than $300,000 in emergency support this week, as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

The distribution of funds comes after the nonprofit refocused its Prompt Response Fund to support other local nonprofit organizations that can provide emergency food supplies to those in need, healthcare for the uninsured or underinsured, and support for hourly workers who have been laid off or furloughed.

The Arlington Community Foundation recently received a $1 million grant from Amazon, with $350,000 earmarked specifically for use in Arlington and the rest to be spent around the region in other community foundations. The Arlington-based Washington Forrest Foundation has contributed 25 percent of each grant awarded by the Arlington Community Foundation.

The largest amount, $25,000, went to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). AFAC has been on the frontlines of the pandemic, trying to get food and supplies to an increasing number of Arlingtonians without an income to pay for groceries.

“We heard loud and clear from our nonprofit partners that they needed to get funds into the hands of the helpers in our community quickly, as this is a time of exceptional need for our neighbors who are experiencing job loss and other crisis situations,” said Arlington Community Foundation CEO and President Jennifer Owens said in the press release. “Our network of nonprofit safety net providers has responded quickly, as have the many generous people in our community who have pitched in to help with contributions of time, talent, and treasure. We owed it to them to move swiftly to support their efforts.”

Owens said the Arlington Community Foundation is continuing to review requests daily and sending awards by direct deposit.

“As the community needs evolve, I’m confident our use of the funds will evolve to meet those needs,” Owens said. “We continue to receive worthy applications as fast as we can respond, and we hope that businesses and individuals will continue to view the Prompt Response Fund as a way to effectively support the nonprofits who are providing crucial support for Arlington’s most vulnerable residents.”

Donations can be made online to the Prompt Response Fund.

The full list of recipients is below, after the jump.

Read More

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Arlington residents in and around Crystal City will be able to make food donations at three drop-off points Saturday morning.

FLARE, a new electric shuttle service, will be picking up donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“During this challenging time, we are eager to use FLARE electric shuttles to benefit our neighbors and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. We urge our friends and neighbors to make much-needed food donations to AFAC tomorrow morning, and we’ll deliver the contributions to AFAC,” said FLARE CEO Andres Delgado, in a statement.

AFAC is bracing for a dramatic increase in food need in Arlington, amid the coronavirus crisis and a drop in donations.

Drop-off donations will be accepted this Saturday (March 21) from 8-11 a.m. at 516 25th Street S., 2729 Fort Scott Drive, and 2100 Crystal Drive.

“Food items that are in greatest need are: rice, pasta, low-sugar cereal, canned tomatoes, canned soup, canned tuna fish, and canned beans (no glass),” FLARE noted.

AFAC announced Friday that it is also setting up food collection boxes outside of six (closed) Arlington community centers.

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) As Arlingtonians scramble to stock up on emergency supplies to weather the coronavirus pandemic, some local nonprofits that are helping those most in need are starting to see the strain on the county’s most vulnerable populations.

“We’re still trying to get used to the new reality,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Arlington Thrive, a nonprofit that provides emergency funding to people in crisis. “We’re trying to figure out how dire the situation is for Arlingtonians, not just [in terms of] health but also economic [situations].”

Schneider said Arlington Thrive and many of the other local nonprofits like A-SPAN and AFAC are collaborating closely to try to assess where needs are highest. The local nonprofits are benefitting, Schneider said, from a few years of community leaders laying the groundwork to provide immediate help across their organizations in the event of an emergency.

“There’s a lot of collaboration going on led primarily by Arlington County and the other community foundations,” Schneider said. “Thrive, like most nonprofits, has been leaning that direction and moving even closer during this crisis. This afternoon I’m on a conference call with 22 other nonprofit executive directors and the director of human services to talk about community-wide response.”

Though things look pretty bleak nationally, Schneider said he’s still staying inspired by local acts of kindness and charity.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of support from the community but also seeing a lot of people who just want to try to make a difference,” Schneider said. “You see these awesome things that teachers are doing and Facebook groups popping up, so we’re trying to help people identify where the need is greatest and channel resources to that… but no matter how good the nonprofit, at some point demand is going to outstrip that.”

Currently, Schneider said the most immediate needs in the short term are for food and, with schools out, child care.

“The dire need right now is for child care assistance and, frankly, because of the anticipated need at AFAC there’s assistance for funding for food,” Schneider said. “Secondly, what we’re trying to do is prepare ourselves for what will be the long term, six-month impact. Even after the quarantine and the immediate crisis ends as people are still out of work or the economy gets back up, they’re going to be turning to Thrive.”

Last week, as the coronavirus crisis was ramping up, the organization announced that it had received $60,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Thrive’s largest private grant ever. In this time of need, however, it will only go so far.

Schneider said Thrive is currently raising money for emergencies like rental assistance, medical assistance, and utility assistance for people who may have just lost their primary income. While Virginia has suspended non-emergency evictions, there’s still the threat that people could be forced out of their homes as soon as that’s lifted.

“People are already in a position where they’re struggling to make those payments,” Schneider said. “I worry about the need being so great in our community that we’re all going to be overwhelmed, which is why you’re seeing that partnership and collaboration.

Donations can be made to Thrive online. Schneider said people who want to help their community could also volunteer at Volunteer Arlington or donate to the Arlington Community Foundation.

File photo

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Amazon, Arlington’s new neighbor, has donated $1 million in “emergency COVID-19 response funds” to four large D.C. area community foundations.

Among those to benefit are the Arlington Community Foundation.

“The donation will be used to provide resources to organizations working with communities disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak — including hourly workers, people experiencing homelessness, and the elderly,” the company said on its blog.

Amazon “is also providing additional cash and in-kind support to five food service providers in the Washington D.C. region,” including the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“The Washington, D.C. area is our new home, and we must rally together to support our neighbors during this difficult time,” said Amazon PR and policy chief Jay Carney. “In addition to making sure our Amazon customers can get the essentials they need, we will support our community partners who are doing life-saving work. Amazon’s $1 million donation to these four community groups will provide fast, flexible support to those who need it most and encourage a wave of additional community donations during this unprecedented time.”

“We know that we are stronger together and hope this gift will inspire others to jump in and do what they can to improve outcomes for our neighbors in need,” Jennifer Owens, president and CEO of the Arlington Community Foundation said in a statement.

“We hope this is the first of many donations by Amazon and our other corporate citizens who recognize the need to partner with County government, and Arlington non-profits during this public health crisis,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

Aside from Arlington, the funds will also be used in Alexandria; D.C.; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; plus Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William counties and the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

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Morning Notes

Don’t Ride Metro Unless You Must, Says Metro — “Effective… Wednesday, March 18 — and continuing until further notice — Metro service will operate as follows: Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support essential travel only. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Follow guidance from your state and local authorities. New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times.” [WMATA, Twitter]

Utility Disconnections, Evictions Suspended — Arlington County has suspended water disconnections, Dominion has suspended power disconnections, and courts in Virginia has suspended evictions, giving those who are unable to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak a chance to stay in their homes. [Twitter, Dominion, Press Release, Twitter]

Police Can Now Enforce State Crowd Ban — “I just issued an emergency order with @VDHCommissioner to enforce Virginia’s statewide ban of more than 10 patrons in restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers. Please use common sense. If you were considering ignoring this limit — don’t.” [Twitter, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Compass Coffee Lays Off Most Employees — “”Compass Coffee, a DC based company just laid off 180 of their 200 employees abruptly.” [PoPville]

Vintage Restaurant Group Shutters Locations — The operator of iconic local restaurants Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern is closing its locations until further notice. [Twitter]

Four Courts Donates Extra Food to AFAC — “We just dropped off fresh produce @AFACfeeds… their need is still great.” [Twitter]

Marymount Extends Online-Only Classes — “In order to continue ensuring the health and safety of the campus community, Marymount University will extend its online-only class period to Tuesday, April 14 (previously March 30), as the greater Washington region sees increased cases of COVID-19.” [Press Release]

Macy’s Closes Stores Nationwide — “Macy’s is closing all of its stores nationwide, effective at the end of business Tuesday through March 31, to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19.” [CNBC]

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