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Food pantry takes supplies on the road

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Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Front Royal is going out to rural and underserved communities to reach people who can’t come to them. The Catholic Charities pantry and USDA food distribution site began the initiative in August, partly in response to a drop-off in clients, according to Jeanne Jackson, pantry administrator.

At the start of the pandemic, Loaves and Fishes saw a surge in clients followed by a sharp decrease: Client traffic went from 100 households a week to 10.

“Many people were reluctant to come to the pantry because of COVID,” said Jackson. “But we found it went beyond that.”

Because of the pandemic, many minimum wage earners lost their jobs and couldn’t afford the gas to drive a half hour to the nearest food pantry, Jackson said.

When Sacred Heart Church reached out about using its Winchester location to distribute food to the migrant population in Northern Shenandoah Valley, the partnership created a model for outreach.

“We began a program where we would pack boxes of nonperishable food, meet the refrigerated truck from our Manassas warehouse with meat, produce and dairy products in Winchester, and distribute the food once a month at Sacred Heart,” said Jackson. “That was our model for what we're trying to do now.”

Currently, Loaves and Fishes is working with organizations in these smaller communities to distribute nonperishables, fruits and vegetables.

The pantry has received funds for a refrigerated van and will begin providing meat and dairy in the coming months. 

Bartlett can be reached at Meghan.Bartlett@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021