FAIRFAX, Va. — As the need for food assistance in Fairfax County remains high, one nonprofit is trying to help.
To accommodate the ever-growing demand, Merrifield-based nonprofit Food for Others announced an expansion of its warehouse located at 2983 Prosperity Avenue to 26,000 square feet. Officials say the 10,391-square-foot addition opened on Jan. 23, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally introduce the expansion is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. on Thursday.
Officials claim the expansion not only provides more storage and office space, but has helped the nonprofit implement a new distribution model that lets its clients choose their own food, instead of just having to accept whatever is given in preassembled boxes.
The new "My Market" functions just like a grocery story. Clients can walk up and down the aisles with a shopping cart to pick items off the shelves. These items include dry and canned goods as well as perishable food like produce and meat.
In 2016, the nonprofit first tried out the concept of a market. After getting a lot of positive feedback, Food for Others added a permanent market in early 2020.
Officials say that site was much smaller than the recently announced expansion. It was only open a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down, but it was enough to show that model's benefits.
In 2022, Food for Others distributed close to 3.7 million pounds of food. It assists on average 225 to over 300 families per day.
Officials say requests for help from the nonprofit began to decline in late 2021 but surged again last spring. Though, the nonprofit claims to be seeing many more families on a daily basis than it ever did prior to the pandemic.
Food for Others officials say they are also expecting an influx of clients due to federal funding running out for emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allotments. The increased benefits will no longer be offered past March.
With its expansion, the nonprofit says it now has more capacity to meet the need for its existing services and to introduce new ones.
Food for Others will use its new office space to partner with other nonprofits to to provide everything from SNAP enrollment assistance to case management and dental care.
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