#Neighbors@LHR is a series that explores the experiences of Loudoun Hunger Relief volunteers, staff, and served families.
Patricia lives in Sterling with her husband and children. She uses Loudoun Hunger Relief occasionally to help make ends meet in one of the most expensive places to live in the country. We sat down to chat with her to get a better understanding of what the pantry does well and what could be better. We also wanted to understand the particular challenges of Sterling residents and why some may not come to us to get the food they need.
Patricia told us “I stay home with my little ones, because after daycare there is nothing left of my paycheck. My husband provides for us, and he pays all our bills but sometimes there just isn’t enough. The pantry helps so much. I can feed my kids, and I feel like by coming here I can help support my family.”
She went on to tell us that “The pantry is a blessing. I get really good food here—better than it used to be. There are lots more fruits and vegetables than before. The space is more comfortable to be in since the remodel last year.”
Some challenges for families in Sterling are definitely time and transportation. Patricia shared that it takes 20 minutes to get to Leesburg and 20 to return home. That makes a trip to the pantry a minimum of an hour and a half depending on how busy it is. She also told us that it’s difficult to get a ride if you don’t have a car, and impossible to take public transportation with small children. It just takes too long. She told us that even with a car, if money is tight and gas is low, she doesn’t take a chance. No one wants to run out of gas on Rt. 7, especially with small children in the car.
After talking with Patricia, and other families from Sterling, we realized that there are even more transportation barriers than we thought. We knew public transportation from Sterling to our Leesburg location was hard, and we knew that ridesharing among the families we serve is common. But we hadn’t considered that some can’t get to us even though they have a car because they don’t have money for gas.
We learn from the families we serve every day, and we’re grateful they are willing to share their stories and insights with us so that we can do more to provide access to good food.