Arlington Charities is the biggest meals pantry within the metropolis. This month, Penny Rowell, growth director for the group, shares a few of the challenges dealing with the group as its workers and volunteers maneuver round a pandemic that has left the much less lucky locally with a fair higher want than regular …

Arlington Charities is a “shopper alternative” pantry. Beforehand, shoppers got here into our facility to “store” for the particular grocery gadgets their household wanted. In March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic compelled us to drastically restructure our operations and tackle a a lot bigger shopper base on account of college and work shutdowns. We transitioned to a drive-through pantry over the course of a single weekend and restricted our as soon as rotating solid of volunteers to a small group of people who got here each day to be able to restrict publicity.

In a short time, our shopper base greater than doubled, and we started taking over new shopper teams, resembling households from the Arlington Unbiased Faculty District who had been displaced from college. We additionally started to implement new packages, resembling frequent drive-through cell pantries (with Nationwide Guard assist), utility help, and grocery supply (outlined additional in truth sheet).

As we had been gearing up for our annual vacation distribution, catastrophe struck within the type of an EF2 twister. We misplaced energy for our heating/air-con models, however probably the most devastating loss was that of our freezing and cooling models, which stored our perishable meals frozen. Our aim was to get again to serving shoppers as rapidly as attainable, and we had been fortunate to have the assistance of a really supportive group. For a number of days, we saved our meals in refrigerated vans and labored at midnight by headlamp till our energy got here again on.

The pandemic and twister weren’t the one disasters Arlington Charities confronted within the final 12 months. Final month’s historic winter storm supplied new challenges for a lot of in our group. Arlington Charities was capable of present bottled water to metropolis personnel who had been working to get utilities again on and donated meals and water to the Arlington Life Shelter. Within the weeks following the storm, we supplied meals to an elevated shopper base and gave out water to many who had been nonetheless with out operating water.

One of many issues we additionally skilled had been adjustments to our fundraising. Beforehand, we hosted a well-liked annual occasion, the Assist and Hope Superstar Chef Showcase, the place donors loved a three-course tasting and cooking demonstrations by a well-liked native chef. This was complemented by wine pairings and an public sale. Sadly, we needed to cancel the occasion final 12 months on account of COVID and restricted time to restructure the occasion in a secure method. We’re very excited to deliver again the Assist and Hope Superstar Chef Showcase this 12 months as a livestream occasion with a novel twist. Two native restaurant homeowners and Meals Community Superstars, Randy Ford, from J. Gilligan’s, and Aziz Kobty, from Prince Lebanese Grill, will talk about the tales behind their eating places, their most well-known dishes, and what it was prefer to be featured on the Meals Community – a dwell “behind the scenes look.” The occasion shall be moderated by famed novelist, O.Ok. Carter, and livestreamed from Tony Rutigliano’s City Alchemy Espresso and Wine Bar. We can even be raffling off a number of thrilling packages supplied by a few of Arlington’s favourite eating places.

It has been a wild 12 months for us, however we skilled a whole lot of optimistic adjustments and are excited to maneuver ahead into 2021.

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