Editor: I write to encourage your readers to support the Ampersand Pantry Project, a great example of local action in the fight against food insecurity, a constant problem made worse by the recent economic shutdown.
Nonprofit organizations that fight hunger every day, including the amazing Loudoun Hunger Relief, press on with their invaluable work and have found ways to expand their services in response to Covid-19. Local governments also play an important role, but there is only do so much they can do in a crisis of this magnitude. Unlike the federal government, counties and towns are not allowed to run deficits. Their tight budgets, made tighter by the recent loss of revenue, leave little room to maneuver. Meanwhile, too many of our neighbors find themselves unable to feed their families.
What are we to do? Get active at the local level.
Local action is happening in Leesburg with the Ampersand Pantry Project. The Project started earlier this year with a little free pantry next to Crossroads Baptist Church on Edwards Ferry Road. Then Covid hit. The Ampersand Pantry Project knew it had to expand and expand it did.
Operating out of the former Tastee Freez across from McDonalds on East Market Street, the Ampersand Pantry Project provides free lunches, without questions, to as many people as it can. The Project also gives out diapers and wipes, which are always in demand. The Project has gone from distributing 25 lunches on its first day to over 250 a day in just two weeks. The lunches are nutritious and delicious, thanks to the generosity and creativity of local restaurants who chipped in without hesitation, providing food prepared in their commercial kitchens at as low a cost as they can afford. Their participation feeds hundreds of people a day and keeps restaurant workers on the job, even if it is at a greatly reduced level. Meanwhile, the Tastee Freez building, modified with a makeshift roller conveyor, is the perfect location for contact-free, social-distanced meal distribution. The Project has had remarkable early success. It will need our help to sustain it.
The Ampersand Pantry Project is local action at its finest. It deserves all the support we can give it. Donations are tax deductible and, like everything else these days, the Ampersand Pantry Project can be found on the web. I encourage all of my neighbors to look it up and do what they can to help.
Rhonda Wilson Paice, Leesburg