‘Kindness Yard Sale’ in Penrose — “Susan Thompson-Gaines wants to spread kindness. This weekend, she’s doing it through a big yard sale at her house. She says it’s hard to miss the home she shares with her husband, David — it’s the yellow house with purple trim at the corner of South Second and South Fillmore streets in Arlington… what makes this yard sale different is that the proceeds are all spent on acts of kindness.” [WTOP]
Flood Cleanup for Pike Businesses — From WUSA 9’s Matthew Torres: “A dental hygienist sent me this other video of the flash flooding in Columbia Pike in Arlington. Their business had to close today as they clean up the water that seeped through. Other businesses are having to do the same thing.” [Twitter]
More Vaccinations Added to State Stats — “Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has incorporated vaccination data from jurisdictions in Maryland. Virginians who received vaccinations in Maryland that were not reported through the Virginia Immunization Information System are now included in the locality and statewide dashboards. The updated data reflects an increase in COVID-19 vaccine first dose rates of 0.33% Alexandria, 0.46% Arlington, and 0.39% Eastern Shore.” [Virginia Dept. of Health]
AFAC Gets Donation from Library Program –“Representatives of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library (FOAL), together with the Arlington Public Library and Arlington County Department of Technology Services, presented a check for $4,525 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). The donation represents the number of Library readers who successfully completed the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. The Library’s popular Summer Reading program helps children avoid the ‘summer slide.'” [Arlington County]
Fmr. County Board Member Dies — “Jay Edwin Ricks, 88, passed away at home in Arlington, Virginia on July 18, 2021 due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease… In 1967, Jay was elected to the Arlington County Board where he served until 1971. During this time, he was active in transportation issues and Vice Chairman of Metro during the critical phase of planning the Metro system.” [Legacy]
Local Church Adapts to Pandemic — ‘As another wave of the pandemic comes at us, we are different as a congregation,’ said the Rev. Amanda Poppei, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia… Poppei’s congregation began hosting outdoor events in spring 2021, including a handbell parade to ring in Pride Month in June and a Flower Communion in May, which they intentionally designed as a multiplatform event.” [UUWorld]
Local Man Awaits Word on Family’s Fate — “An Arlington, Virginia, man is one of many family members waiting for answers on the whereabouts of loved ones after a condo building collapsed in Surfside, Florida. ‘I would say yesterday was just a shock day. Today, a lot of us woke up hoping it was a bad dream,’ Alex Rodriguez told News4… His mom, Elena Blasser, and his grandmother, Elena Chavez were inside.” [NBC 4]
Chase Ends Near 14th Street Bridge — “A person is in custody after leading multiple police departments on a high-speed chase that spanned several county and state lines. It all started in Prince George’s County, Maryland, when a suspected carjacker fled police around 7:30 p.m. Friday… The driver evaded police several times, weaving into the City of Alexandria, until finally being stopped and arrested in Arlington County.” [WTOP, Twitter]
New Faregates at Clarendon Station — “Metro today began public testing at six rail stations of new, modernized faregates that will replace Metro’s aging faregate technology. The new faregates will include enhanced safety features, larger displays, and faster processing… As part of a month-long pilot project, test faregates have been installed at Clarendon, Dunn Loring, Gallery Place, Glenmont, Waterfront and West Falls Church.” [WMATA]
Hot Start to the Week — From the National Weather Service: “With an extended period of hot and humid conditions on Mon-Wed, here are some helpful reminders about car safety when it comes to heat. Also, take a look at the high/low temp forecast across the region. Shower and t’storm chances increase by mid-week.” [Twitter]
Demand for Food Help Falling — “AFAC’s count of participating families, which had spiked 49 percent at the height of the COVID crisis last fall, is down to being nearly on par with pre-COVID levels. One reason: Jobs that had been lost early in the pandemic are now coming back, which is good news all the way around.” [Sun Gazette]
DCA Is Getting Busier — From Reagan National Airport: “The airport is getting busier & so are our parking facilities! Parking Garages A and B/C may be closed at times, open to customers with advanced reservations only. The Economy Lot is open with plenty of availability. Book online to guarantee a spot.” [Twitter]
More Delays on Glebe Near Chain Bridge — From VDOT: “N Glebe Rd between Military Rd and Rt 123 in Arlington will again have alternating traffic in each direction via flagging, and the Glebe/123 signal will again have flagging Mon 6/28 from 9:30AM-3PM for Pimmit Run bridge project work.” [Twitter]
Reminder: Vote in This Week’s Arlies — Voting in the latest weekly edition of the Arlies closes tomorrow at noon. This week’s categories are favorite dog park and veterinarian. [ARLnow]
The first Fill the Cruiser food drive kicked off last summer in response to the growing number of people struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic. That effort yielded 6,509 pounds of donated food. The next is now planned for Tuesday, May 18.
“We saw firsthand the growing need for food assistance and recognize this need remains high due to the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “Through generous community donations, we can assist the Arlington Food Assistance Center as they continue their mission of feeding our neighbors in need by providing dignified access to nutritious supplemental groceries.”
Outside of the food drive, officers have also assisted community organizations with bagging and distributing grocery items, Savage said.
AFAC has seen a significant increase in the number of families it serves — a 33% increase in the first few months of the pandemic, according to the organization’s website. Amid the surge in need, however, the nonprofit has reported fewer donations from grocery stores and leaner volunteer ranks.
More on the Fill the Cruiser food drive from ACPD:
The Community Resources Section will be collecting items at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at three locations:
- Giant Food – 2901 S. Glebe Road
- Safeway – 3713 Lee Highway
- Westover Baptist Church – 1125 Patrick Henry Drive
Upon arrival, donors should stay in their car until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot. All donors are expected to observe proper social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering while dropping off donations.
Suggested Items for Donation
AFAC accepts most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including perishable items. AFAC is most in need of the following low sodium, low fat and low sugar items:
- Low sodium canned tomatoes
- Low sodium canned tuna
- Low sodium canned soups
- Canned vegetables
- Peanut butter (in plastic jars)
- Low sugar cereal
Those wishing to donate, but unable to attend the Fill the Cruiser events should visit AFAC’s website to find a donation drop-off site near them.
Photo via Arlington County Police Department
Virtual Learning Day for In-Person Students — “Due to inclement weather, tomorrow, Tue, Feb. 2, Level 1 students receiving in-person learning support will temporarily revert to distance learning, and the return date for Level 2 Career & Technical Education students will be Feb. 3, depending on weather.” [Twitter]
Limited Service for ART Buses — “Tuesday, Feb. 2: Due to ongoing inclement weather, ART will operate *Limited* service on Tuesday, February 2. All routes will operate regular weekday schedules, but delays are possible and some routes will detour. Additional alerts will be sent if conditions should change during the day.” [Arlington Transit]
More Snow Today — “Snow showers of varying intensity could continue at times into Tuesday. Bursts of snow reduce visibility at times and re-coat roads. Temperatures at or below freezing mean untreated surfaces will remain slick. Additional accumulation in the immediate area should range from a coating to a couple inches through Tuesday.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Arlington GOP Pressing for School Openings — “Whether the prime consideration is public policy, pure politics or (most likely) a combination of the two, Arlington Republicans appear to see an opening in forcefully questioning the county school system’s lackadaisical back-to-class efforts. Keeping students out of classrooms for months on end is ‘destroying the lives of our children – it’s just failing them miserably,’ Arlington GOP chairman Andrew Loposser thundered.” [InsideNova]
Food Program Changes Hands — “This month, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) will transition ownership of its Plot Against Hunger program to the Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA). Since its inception in 2007, over 600,000 pounds of fresh produce has been donated to AFAC through the Plot Against Hunger program.” [Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture]
More Capitol Rioters Who Stayed in Arlington — “Two more Kentucky residents have been charged federally in the U.S. Capitol riot that killed five people… According to the criminal complaint against Crase and Williams, the two drove to Washington with a third person, a witness not named in the complaint, and arrived at their hotel in Arlington, Virginia, just after midnight Jan. 6.” [Louisville Courier Journal]
Red Hot and Blue Pitmaster Dies — “Ernest McKnight, the pitmaster and executive chef who helped grow Red Hot & Blue from a Rosslyn, Virginia, barbecue joint to an international chain in the 90s, died of lung cancer January 17. He was 74.” [Eater]
New Metro Lost and Found Policy — “Starting March 1, DC Metro says the ONLY lost-and-found items it will help customers reclaim are wallets and electronics. Metro says the rest (see sampling in current list below) will be trashed or auctioned off.” [Twitter, WMATA]
BBC Airs Segment on AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center, which is seeing record food need and lines throughout the day, was profiled in a segment that aired on BBC World News this week. [Twitter]
Fares to Return on ART Buses — “ART buses will resume front door boarding and fare collection starting on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Riders will begin boarding buses through the front door and will pay their fare at the fare box using a SmarTrip card or exact change. The regular ART bus fare for a one-way trip is $2.00.” [Arlington Transit]
Teens Launch Hot Cocoa Company — “In July, Wakefield High School rising seniors Farah Bahr and Sithiya Reshmee (who goes by the nickname ‘Resh’) founded F&R Sweets, a line that includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, churro cheesecake (made with croissant dough, cream cheese filling and cinnamon sugar) and hot chocolate bombs… the bombs ($3-$10 each) grabbed my attention. They are bonbon-like orbs filled with mini marshmallows, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (regular, caramel or peppermint) and sometimes other add-ins.” [Arlington Magazine]
AWLA Treats Dog With Skin Condition — “On Sunday, we were very surprised when a brown-eyed dog with a severe skin infection and hair loss came through our doors. He desperately needs us, and together we can start him on the path to healing. Rufus was found all alone on the side of the road and was brought to AWLA for help.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Patch]
Fort Myer Bowling Alley Back Open — “The [Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall] Bowling Center had a small grease fire last week that temporarily shut down operations. Today, the fire department and health inspections were completed and they were given approval to re-open at 2 p.m.” [Twitter]
Arlington is Soldier’s Resting Place, At Last — “An Army sergeant from Panama, Oklahoma who was killed during the Korean War has been identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” from the 55 boxes containing remains of American service members turned over by North Korea in 2018. “Rodgers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date that has yet to be determined.” [Times Record]
As coronavirus cases rise in Arlington County, the number of residents in need of fresh, free food for their families is also increasing.
Executive Director and CEO Charles Meng said the Arlington Food Assistance Center is seeing record-high numbers of visitors each week and month.
“Between October and November, we saw a 9.4% increase, serving 3,440 families at some point during the month,” Meng said in an email. “(We) responded to 11,255 visits for food during the month, with many families having to visit multiple weeks during the month.”
This morning (Monday), families lined up at AFAC to receive a Christmas special — a whole frozen chicken — as well as fresh veggies, desserts, milk and eggs. Volunteers split time de-stalking Brussels sprouts and briskly moving families through the line.
AFAC has seen people coming more frequently for food during the pandemic, likely because personal budgets that could pay for part of a family’s food needs are now slimmer or non-existent, according to Meng. He added that there has also been an uptick in people coming to AFAC for the first time.
“Many of our families are service workers at hotels, restaurants and airports — the hardest hit during the pandemic,” Meng said. “We are seeing the families who would normally access our services come more often and the new families are more regularly coming for needed food.”
The number of clients served by AFAC last peaked in August, with the organization serving 3,364 over the course of the month. When the pandemic started, the number of families being referred to AFAC jumped by 45%, Meng told MSNBC earlier this month.
The demand for food at AFAC has attracted both national and international media attention, with a BBC reporter visiting the organization’s distribution center near Shirlington last week.
They’re getting extra chicken for Christmas at this food pantry in Virginia. Without food assistance, millions of American families would have nothing to eat this holiday season. Our report soon on @BBCWorld pic.twitter.com/cVX4H93Ogg— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) December 16, 2020
The rise in demand locally tracks with trends seen nationwide.
An Associated Press analysis of Feeding America data from 181 food banks in its network found the organization has distributed nearly 57 percent more food in the third quarter of the year, compared with the same period in 2019.
Food and financial donations are enough to keep up with demand, but as numbers continue to increase, Meng told ARLnow more help will be needed.
“We have sufficient supplies to address our needs for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Financial donations have also been good, but with increasing numbers we need all (the money) that people can spare.”
The annual Boy Scout food drive, which usually brings in 50,000 pounds, was cancelled, but several scout groups still came through with smaller-scale drives, bringing in 36,000 pounds, he said.
Donations from grocery stores are about level with last year, and individual donations have been “very strong,” he said.
Nationwide, food banks are seeing fewer volunteers during the pandemic, NPR reports. In some cases, the usual group of volunteers includes older people, who are staying home due to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
AFAC also runs on the work of volunteers, who Meng commended for making sure the food bank handles the increase in visits despite the danger posed by the pandemic.
“Distributing food is one of the things we do well,” he told ARLnow. “We have a dedicated cadre of volunteers who have stepped up to help — they are the real heroes of AFAC.”
The second annual Cranksgiving charity bike ride returns to Arlington this Saturday (Nov. 21), and this year the choose-your-own adventure experience includes COVID-19 safety rules.
“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun on a bike while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Sarah Billington. “COVID-19 has caused dramatically increased demand for food assistance, and we’re trying to engage people who ride bikes to help contribute to fulfilling that need.”
Solo and team riders (up to 10) get a scavenger hunt list of tasks, like buying up to $15 in high-demand food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and ALIVE! in Alexandria. But due to the pandemic there is no designated starting point, and participants will need to take pictures of completed tasks and share progress on social media.
Participating organizations include The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. A virtual award ceremony will conclude the Thanksgiving-themed event, which runs from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
“Join your Cranksgiving family for a physically, but not socially distant Award Ceremony via Zoom to hangout, meet other participants, announce the winners, and earn fabulous prizes!” the event registration page says.
There are dozens of Cranksgiving bike events held around the country each year between September and December. The first was held in New York City in 1999.
Courtesy photo (above) from 2019
Raytheon Remaining in Rosslyn — “Raytheon Technologies Corp. has reached a deal to extend its stay in a Rosslyn office building nearly three years before its current lease was slated to expire. The Waltham, Massachusetts, defense contractor has signed a long-term lease renewal with Monday Properties for its roughly 116,000 square feet at 1100 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Man Leaves ‘Bachelorette’ — “Our Arlington man Jason has departed the Bachelorette. Now all we’re left with is a man with the vaguely similar name of Chasen. Sad!” [Washingtonian]
Local Food Bank Expanding — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) is continuing its expansion efforts to ensure it has the ability to meet future needs of the community. Next up: Renovation of a newly acquired warehouse space at 2704 South Nelson St. next to the AFAC headquarters in the Four Mile Run corridor.” [InsideNova]
HQ2 to Help Fight Counterfeiting — “Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters appears to be the base for the company’s latest global effort to rein in faux goods sold on its e-commerce platform. The head of its so-called ‘Counterfeit Crimes Unit’ is based in Arlington, and the company was recently recruiting for the division at its Crystal City offices.” [Washington Business Journal]
TV Broadcast from Ballston — “Live, work and play in the Ballston area! FOX 5’s Kevin McCarthy visits Arlington County during our FOX 5 Fall Field Trip.” [Fox 5]
Arlington Public Schools will distribute meals at 21 of its schools during distance learning, up from its current nine.
The expansion comes as pandemic-related food insecurity rises in the county.
All APS students can pick up lunch at the new locations. Those who qualify for free- and reduced-price meals will continue to receive them, while those who do not qualify must pay as they would in a normal year.
“We are making it safe and convenient for all students and families to pick up meals while in distance learning and encourage all students to come to our meal sites, get fresh air, see friends, and take a break while picking up meals,” Amy Maclosky, director of APS Food and Nutrition Services, said in a press release.
Under the provision, all students at Barcroft, Barrett, Carlin, Drew and Randolph elementary schools will receive free breakfast and lunch. Students’ families will not have to individually apply for these meals.
The fall grab-and-go meal distribution will begin on the first day of (remote) school: Tuesday, Sept. 8. Summer meal pick-up service, meanwhile, will end on Friday. More from an email to APS families:
APS will be expanding the grab-and-go meal distribution locations from the current 9 locations to 21 schools and adjusting meal services for the new school year, beginning Tues, Sept. 8, when APS begins operating under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).The last day for the APS summer grab-and-go meals service is Fri, Aug. 28.
Families who pick up meals on Fri, Aug. 28 will receive breakfast and lunch for Sat, Aug. 29 and Mon, Aug. 31. There will be no meal service Aug. 31-Sept. 7. Meal service will resume on Tue, Sept. 8 under NSLP, APS is committed to ensuring that ALL students, ages 2-18, can easily access healthy, nutritious meals.
As of last Thursday, the school system said it had served 358,512 meals to students since schools closed on March 16.
The expansion of APS meal pick-up sites is going into effect amid an increase in local food need.
During a special meeting of the Arlington County Board yesterday, Anita Friedman, director of Arlington’s Department of Human Services (DHS), said there has been an increase in households seeking aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Between February and May of 2020, Arlington County saw an 84% increase in SNAP applications,” Friedman said. “We are basically hovering around double the amount of applications that we had prior to COVID, although we’re down from the peak that occurred in April.”
Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) announced on August 20 that, when comparing the five months before and after the pandemic’s start, it has seen a 45% increase in families being referred to AFAC by social workers.
AFAC said it has served 33% more families during that time period — 5,054 families consisting of 12,306 individuals.
“When grocery store shelves were empty at the start of the pandemic, AFAC was the sole source of food for many in our community,” AFAC said in a press release. “Since many low-income jobs have not returned, families are visiting AFAC more frequently for much needed food.”
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a new Food Security Coordinator position, to be created within the Dept. of Human Services to address food insecurity. He also called for a pilot program that would distribute grocery gift cards to families known to be having trouble accessing food.
Garden space at Arlington Public Schools is being used to grow produce for local pantries.
Now, fresh produce like lettuce, peppers and tomatoes fill soil at Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Hoffman-Boston Elementary and Tuckahoe Elementary.
“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.”
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
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.