By Mark Gunderman
The escalating cost of living combined with the loss of higher paying jobs has put many people in our area in a financial dilemma. Lower wage jobs appear to be a larger share of our community’s total employment. The surge in population and rising cost of housing in our community have added stress on resources and make it much harder for lower wage earners to make ends meet. Those with modest income struggle to pay for housing, groceries, childcare, health care, and education among other essentials. Imagine the difficulty of choosing whether your family eats or has clothes on their back? Many families with children living in at-risk situations depend on local food banks in order to have enough money to make rent. Keeping families stable in the same home helps children remain in one school and prevents them from experiencing the loss of family members, friends and familiar neighborhoods.
In our community, the nation’s wealthiest county by median household income, about 11,000 children qualify for subsidized meals — about 16 percent of the total student population. More than three years after the 2007-2009 recession officially concluded, more Americans are now receiving food subsidies than at the end of the recession.
It’s been well documented since the recession began in December 2007 that poverty levels have risen and homes and jobs have been lost. Demand for food, for dental and medical care and assistance for rent and utilities has dramatically increased. Middle class families are economizing and shopping at thrift stores as they attempt to tackle an unfamiliar and uncompromising economy. For many people, it just doesn’t make sense.
Due to the extraordinarily high demand for food to support our neighbors, the local food bank pantry shelves require your donations to fill them to the maximum. Food and monetary donations are desperately needed to serve needy families. Foods that will help the most are peanut butter, jelly, cereal, cake and cookie mixes, canned tomato products, bagged beans or rice, canned black beans, canned chicken, canned fruit, oatmeal, canned chili and all types of soups.
As we begin a new year, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are behind us; however, there are many families in the county that still require emergency support from our Loudoun-based food banks. LINK against Hunger is an all volunteer-run organization providing food and financial assistance to people in need in the Herndon, Sterling and Ashburn areas for more than 40 years. LINK, along with other area food banks in Loudoun, reach out to all four corners of the county and are as follows:
- Mt. Olive Baptist Church – Five Loaves Two Fishes, Leesburg (703-286-5030)
- Loudoun Interfaith Relief, Leesburg 703-777-5911
- Messiahs Market at Community Church, Ashburn 571-209-5000
- Grace Ministries at Crossroads, Ashburn 703-729-5100
- Guilford Baptist Church, Old Sterling 703-430-6444
- LINK against Hunger, Sterling 703-437-1776
- Tree of Life Ministries, Purcellville 703-554-3595
- Seven Loaves Services, Middleburg 540-687-3489
This year, the faith community asks every man, women and school child living in Loudoun to please be conscious of the needy that live among us. Be strong in your faith and above all things do everything in love. Please, once a day, once a week or even once a month, be a Good Samaritan!