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The Sandy Spring Way

Offering Hope Through Community Support

November 13th, 2012 | By Sandy Spring Bank

As our Nation’s struggling economy continues to recover, many families are still hurting and dealing with high unemployment. Sadly, many of our neighbors, including many children, may go to sleep every night hungry and malnourished.

In the Washington metro area, there are 680,612 individuals at risk of hunger, including 200,000 children (U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey). Hunger has tremendous short and long-term effects on children. During pregnancy, lack of nutrition can lead to low birth weight and sensory problems. Hungry children are more vulnerable to getting sick, have a harder time fighting infections, and are more prone to developmental, emotional and educational problems. Hunger further impacts educational attainment, skill development and job readiness once the child reaches adulthood.

Many government programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formally known as Food Stamps, assist a large number of families during these tough times; however, due to the tremendous increase of unemployment from 2006 to 2010, programs like SNAP struggle to support all of the families in need. For example, from 2006 to 2010, SNAP participation increased by 53 percent due to high unemployment, which put great financial stress on the program. The fight to end hunger has become a much larger battle that now requires participation from each of us.

Fortunately, our community has received advocacy and generous support from The Capital Area Food Bank (with two locations in Northeast Washington D.C and Lorton, VA), since January 15th, 1980. The main mission of the CAFB is to be the hub for food sourcing, food distribution and nutrition education in the Washington metro area, serving struggling families battling hunger. This amazing organization distributes 33 million pounds of food annually, half of which is fresh produce, through direct support from community members and its network of 700 nonprofit partners. These nonprofits include soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, youth programs and faith-based organizations. The Capital Area Food Bank serves over 478,100 people across the Washington Metro Area, including:

  • The District of Columbia
  • Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland
  • Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria in Virginia.

Such progress is absolutely impressive. I was truly convinced, when I personally visited the site. As I walked into the Washington, D.C. location, I was immediately welcomed by Shamia Holloway, Communications Manager for the Capital Area Food Bank. She kindly took me on a tour of the organization’s 123,000 square foot facility and introduced me to all of its volunteers and staff members. I felt a very positive vibe in the distribution center as everyone was so proud to be a part of such a great cause. As I walked through the aisles, I realized how grateful we should be for what we have that we may not appreciate. We tend to complain about our situations in life, but we must try to recognize the fact that there are many people in our community who struggle even for their meals.

On the positive side, the support of community members such as yourselves and organizations like the Capital Area Food Bank offer hope to those in need. We all can make a huge difference in the lives of over half a million needy families in our area by dedicating our time and contributing food and funds. I encourage us all to give back; even the smallest contribution is important and appreciated.

Supporting this great cause brings food to those families in need every day. It is incredible to know that so many meals can be provided with the help of this amazing organization. Imagine how many hungry people can enjoy a much-needed meal from even the smallest contribution. Your support is appreciated and will go a long way to help this campaign and ensure that our neighbors will not have to suffer from starvation and malnourishment.

 

Ali Shahoseini