I enjoyed my experience working with the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway, West Virginia so when I returned to my family home in Arlington, VA, during the "stay at home" order, I looked for local food bank opportunities. Most of the in-person volunteering has been suspended for obvious reasons, however, the Arlington Food Assistance Center
("AFAC") has easy to follow instructions on starting your own neighborhood food bank in the safety of your own home.
AFAC provides food to over 2,300 families every week. Forty percent of that food comes from donations from grocery stores and food drives, but grocery store donations have been cut back substantially during the pandemic. This means neighborhood food drives and monetary donations must increase to fill the gap with so many families facing unemployment and financial crisis.
I registered my food bank on the AFAC website, downloaded the flyer, and composed an email to the neighbors in my townhouse complex inviting them to contribute nonperishable items. I left boxes on my front porch so friends and neighbors could drop off supplies without contact. I felt excited every time I opened my front door to take the dog out or go to the mailbox -- there was another bag of canned goods or pasta to add to my collection! At first, I was disappointed that some neighbors only gave us a few canned goods, however, I remembered that many of them are in vulnerable populations and not leaving their house at all during the crisis, so they were generously giving what they could spare from their own cupboard, not knowing when they would get out again to the store.
I organized the items in my living room and delivered nine boxes of nonperishable food at AFAC on Saturday April 18. The staff there was grateful for the donations and helped me unload the car. I found this was easy to organize with AFAC’s help and can be done with neighbors, friends, sports, teams, book clubs, faith communities, and coworkers. I’m organizing another food drive among the families that frequent my favorite dog park next!
About Ksenia Bradner
Ksenia Bradner grew up in McLean, Virginia near Washington, D.C., and was adopted from St. Petersburg, Russia in 1993. She earned an Associate of Science magna cum laude, and holds a BA history degree from Goucher College. Ksenia's education was tailored to public history, which involves communicating history in an accessible way to the public. Her career goal is to work in the museum field in a position that pertains to public history, rather than archival work or preservation.
She has completed two excellent internships in the museum field - the Civil War Medical Museum in Frederick, Maryland and the National Park Service Museum Resource Center in Landover, Maryland. In 2018, Ksenia worked as a History Interpreter for George Washington’s Mount Vernon during the busy Student Highlights season where the estate greets over a half a million visitors of all ages and nationalities.