Fairfax County is changing up its Stuff the Bus food drive this winter to support increased demand for food while accommodating challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Typically held twice a year, Stuff the Bus will kick off its 10th year of existence with buses parked at select locations throughout the county from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.
During the two-day food drive, community members can stop by the buses to donate nonperishable food that will help restock local food pantries, which have reported an uptick in the need for food and drops in volunteer rates during the pandemic.
To prevent the potential transmission of the novel coronavirus, donors should wear a mask or other face-covering when at a Stuff the Bus site, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) is directing people to place their donations directly inside the buses through their rear doors, rather than approaching the front door or the bus drivers.
Fairfax County is also encouraging people to make online monetary donations to the participating nonprofits in lieu of donating food in person.
According to the county, virtual donations give food pantries more flexibility, allowing them to purchase in bulk, stock up on fresh food, and obtain “culturally appropriate foods, which better meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve.” It is also less labor-intensive.
“Nonprofits often rely on the work of volunteers to sort and shelve donations,” NCS says. “The COVID-19 virus has greatly impacted volunteers’ ability to serve, especially older adults or those with pre-existing conditions.”
The Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office will accept donations at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive. A complete list of all locations is available online.
Donations at the McLean Government Center will benefit LINK, which provides emergency food to people in the Herndon, Sterling, and Ashburn communities. The Patrick Henry Library drive will support Western Fairfax Christian Ministries on Jan. 30 and Cornerstones on Feb. 6.
The two Providence District locations — the supervisor’s office and James Lee Community Center — will support the Annandale Christian Community for Action on Jan. 30 and the Falls Church Community Service Council on Feb. 6.
A list of the most frequently requested food items can be found on the Stuff the Bus website.
Based on unemployment and poverty data, the Capital Area Food Bank estimates in its October 2020 Hunger Report that there has been a 48% to 60% increase in food insecurity in the D.C. region since the pandemic began.
Image via Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services