It is a little over a year since the Prince William Community Feeding Task Force began operations. Demand for food grew during the past year's pandemic, and the task force bolstered its operations to help meet the needs of those in the community with food insecurity.
In the past year, the task force, a cooperation between Prince William County, Action in the Community Through Service (ACTS), the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park and the Prince William County Community Foundation, has distributed nearly 13 million pounds of food throughout the community, completed 15,000 food rescues to families who were without food, and recovered more than one million pounds of food that would have otherwise been discarded from area restaurants, grocery stores and hospitals.
Meeting the Demand
Demand for food is easing, even as the pandemic continues.
"It is clear we have finally turned a corner with the demand leveling off or even beginning to decrease," said Steve Liga, ACTS chief executive officer.
The task force, however, is still seeking funding and to aid those who still need help.
Prince William Food Rescue Development Director Aaron Tolson said some additional Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding should be forthcoming in May to help with procuring food.
Since the task force started distributing food at the beginning of the pandemic, the number of food banks and pantries it served weekly increased from about 50 to its current 78 distribution sites. "We serve a little over 16,000 families every week in our community," Tolson said.
Volunteers Make the Difference
Operations at the task force's warehouse in Manassas depends on volunteers. Some volunteers pack food boxes at the warehouse, while others deliver food to the food banks. Others, called food rescue heroes, deliver food to families in food emergencies, people who are shut in, quarantined, or have limited transportation or health issues.
"I think we have over 700 active food rescue heroes in our community, but there's always more opportunities for folks to help with rescues. We're also doing no-contact, direct deliveries from food pantries to peoples' homes," Tolson said.
Volunteers say they enjoy doing the work. "I'm retired, and this gets me out of the house and gives me something to do, and by the same token, I feel like I'm helping the community," said A.B. Campbell, a retired truck driver.
Packing boxes at the warehouse also benefits those doing the work. "I just want to help other people and do some good," said Elder Ryan McMinn, who recently spent a morning working at the warehouse, along with others from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Manassas and Centreville areas.
How to Get Involved
To volunteer, email email@example.com
. "We have opportunities that come up from time to time to assemble boxes at our warehouse," Tolson said.
Food donations are delivered to the Community Feeding Task Force Warehouse at 8414 Kao Circle in Manassas or to a local food pantry, which can be located using the GIS Food Map