In the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, there are approximately 633,000 residents at risk of, or experiencing hunger. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). The poverty rate for school children ages 5 - 17 nationally is 34.5 percent; in D.C. it is 51.3 percent, the highest in the nation. This translates to 200,000 children at risk of hunger in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area – 56,000 in the District alone or 1 in 2 children.
Fighting this hunger is the Capital Area Food Bank, the largest, public nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Each year the food bank distributes 20 million pounds of food, including 6 million pounds of fresh produce, to over 700 partner agencies. The Capital Area Food Bank has served the National Capital Region for 27 years.
Running these food banks are a few staff and a plethora of volunteers. Volunteers are essential to the operations of the Food Bank. They do everything from sorting and repackaging food to working on the CSA farm to leading education programs. Last year over 12,000 volunteers assisted the Capital Area Food Bank sorting and sending food to those in need. Volunteers sort donated non-perishable food items that are sent to 750 member agencies for distribution to those in need. Capital Area Food Bank relies on volunteers to help ready food for distribution to its agencies.
USDA Secretary Ed Schafer visited the Capital Area Food Bank recently in observance of September's National Hunger Action theme. He recognized a long-time volunteer and toured the facilities and helped sort foods that will be contributed to the DC community. Some of the food was part of the more than 32,000 pounds of food and beverages donated by USDA employees and contractors during a summer long food drive, the Summer Harvest.
"USDA employees and contractors share a compassion for those less fortunate, and I am proud that they've been leading by example through our Summer Harvest food drive", Schafer said. "We do this because we believe no one in America should go hungry." Schafer commended all volunteers who give their time to improve their communities and help those in need.
On behalf of President Bush, Schafer presented a food bank volunteer, Dave Willey, with the President's Volunteer Service Award for his contributions to the Capital Area Food Bank.
For more information, visit www.capitalareafoodbank.org
Press Release: Agriculture Secretary Honors Volunteers at Capital Area Food Bank