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Inflation driving food insecurity to record levels in Arlington County

Arlington Food Assistance Center predicts they will soon surpass numbers seen during the peak of the COVID pandemic.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Community leaders in Arlington County are sounding the alarm that the number of families facing food insecurity will reach levels never-before seen in the county within the next two weeks. 

Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) CEO Charles Meng says the center is expected to see peak levels of need, the highest in its 34-year history, with the holiday season right around the corner. 

"Our families, it takes them years t get out of these situations. It's not just today or tomorrow, or next month. It's years," Meng said. 

In 2020, the center provided food to more than 17,000 people. Meng said the COVID pandemic threw families into insecurity due to job losses. The numbers began to stabilize last winter. Now, they are sharply rising again because of the cost of food and gas. 

"What that's doing is driving more families to us once again, so our numbers have been going up at a rate of about 50 families a week. We will soon pass the peak of the pandemic," Meng said.

RELATED: ‘Share the wealth’ | Northern Virginia food pantry combats food insecurity in the DMV

During the pandemic, Arlington County started a task force to create a new strategic plan to fight food insecurity. It targets 28 strategies to increase food access to people across the county, aiming to implement them in the next three years.

While that's still the goal, AFAC is focused on its day-to-day operations, facing the same inflationary pressure as its clients.

"At the beginning of this calendar year, we were buying eggs at about $16 for a case of 15.Last week we had to pay over $51 for that very same case. That’s a 300% increase," Meng said.

WUSA9 is hosting a food drive on Friday, Nov. 4 to fight hunger.

We’re partnering with the Arlington County Food Assistance Center as part of the drive. If you’d like to contribute you can join us at the Giant food store at 3480 South Jefferson Street in Falls Church.

RELATED: Stuff-the-Truck | WUSA9 partners with DMV organizations for food drives ahead of the holidays

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