From Our President & CEO
When we woke up on March 12, 2020, it felt as though the bottom had dropped out of our world. Although we’d begun giving away emergency food bags two weeks prior to the beginning of the pandemic, not everyone wanted one or even knew why we were preparing. We did know our mission is always to provide good food to help those who need it.
In the beginning, the grocery stores were emptied, supply chains interrupted, and we faced triple the numbers of neighbors seeking help while our food donations diminished. We opened accounts at large wholesalers and figured out how to order in family size portions. Our food budget grew from $70,000 annually to more than a million dollars last year.
When things were feeling toughest, we were awed by the power of community caring — by your caring — to come to the aid of those in need and by your kind support to our team. We have been able to serve everyone who came to us because of you.
LHR continues to respond to the needs created by the pandemic and we know they will be long lasting. Our partners in Loudoun County government, the school system, faith congregations, fellow nonprofits and law enforcement have been working with us to get nutritious food deeper into local neighborhoods and programs. We could not have delivered such significant food relief in 2020 without substantial CARES Act funding, administered by Loudoun County. However, our largest funding group was individual and corporate donors.
Our volunteers are our heroes. Our inside groups, outside volunteers, those stationed at home, and our food drive folks did countless hours of extraordinary work. Our masked volunteers braved all sorts of weather, performed multiple tasks and literally moved 1,300 tons of food. We’re still standing because of you.
Food donors, including the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, our incredible local grocery stores, JK Community Farm, the PEC Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows, the Loudoun Valley Growers Cooperative, and many individual donors, faith communities and group food drives have kept us stocked with our most needed items each and every month. You have provided for your neighbors in their year of need, and we thank you for your continued generosity. We are more hopeful than in the beginning. The hands that did the work may have been ours, but the heart was yours.
Loudoun Hunger Relief has had to transform every aspect of our operations. Grocery stores, particularly in the early weeks of the crisis, had nothing to donate. Prior to COVID, our grocery store partners accounted for 55% of our available food. We had to quickly and radically shift to a procurement model in order to secure enough food to feed those in need. We required dramatically increased storage, resulting in two tractor trailers in our parking lot acting as additional warehouse space. Our volunteer operations are vastly constricted, leaving almost four times the work to less than a quarter of our regular manpower inside the building. In tents behind the building, intrepid volunteers pack food in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
An online appointment system for clients was developed and implemented in record time, allowing clients to make an appointment for food service, and to tell us their particular needs and dietary constraints. Since our space is so small, it is no longer safe to have clients come into the building to select food for their families. Instead, they provide selections on their appointment form and we deliver their grocery orders curbside during appointment times.
Loudoun Hunger Relief has expanded to add additional offsite service locations around the county to reach those with transportation challenges. There are now two locations in Sterling and one in Purcellville in addition to satellite pantries at HealthWorks for Northern Virginia in Leesburg and in Lucketts in cooperation with the Lucketts Ruritan. We continue to supply emergency food kits for distribution by our partners. Overall, we supplied families in need with about 2.6 million pounds of food in 2020. That’s about double the amount of food we distribute in a “normal” year.
Loudoun Hunger Relief has been fully operational throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, we have expanded operations to meet the exploding need in our community. Within the first month of the crisis, our service levels quadrupled from around 250 families per week to around 800 families per week, with additional families being served weekly with LHR supplied food distributed by community partners. We reached the 800 family direct service level within the first month of the crisis, with additional families being served weekly with LHR supplied food through community partners. For example, LHR has been supplying roughly 600 shelf-stable family grocery packs to the Loudoun County Public School system for distribution via the food bus routes since April 2020. Overall, the food we distribute each week helps around 1800 families.
We are also providing quarantine food packs to COVID positive families who cannot afford to buy food. We are continually working to minimize the risk to our staff and volunteers while still making sure that people have food to eat and feed their children. Over the course of 2020, we had about 355,000 service instances. Our community support remains strong, and our financial position remains stable as we carefully steward our resources in preparation for the remaining storm to come. Throughout these challenges, we have never ceased our focus on providing fresh, healthy foods.
FUTURE OPERATIONAL PLAN
Loudoun Hunger Relief will continue to serve Loudouners in need of food assistance with fresh, nutritious choices. We also will continue to act as a resource for smaller pantries in the area, including providing food supplies when needed, serving as the Loudoun Food Providers Network’s produce hub, and delivering services when other pantries must shut down due to COVID-19 exposure, which has happened during the course of the year. We will continue to place the health and welfare of our staff, volunteers and clients at the forefront of everything we do, balancing service risk carefully against the desperate need for food among an increasing number of families in our community. Our strategic planning includes increased food choice for those we serve, as well as expansions of space and services. Loudoun Hunger Relief has served our community for 30 years, and is positioned to serve for another 30.
VOLUNTEERS ARE THE HEARTBEAT
In the very beginning of the pandemic, before we all knew to wear masks, and while hand sanitizer was impossible to get, we tried to do without our volunteers for about three weeks. And there was no way. Volunteers do so much of the service work at LHR. By week three, we knew we had to find a way to safely have our volunteers working alongside us as they always have. Luckily, we have volunteers who want to serve no matter what.
Our space is just too small to have everyone in the building safely. We have been very grateful to a small group of core inside volunteers who show up multiple times per week, week after week, to help families in need. This group has been amazingly dedicated and we could not be serving at the level we are without them.
We have also had incredible help in all weathers from groups of outdoor volunteers, both at the Leesburg pantry and at our mobile pantry locations. These volunteers have masked up, gloved up, sunscreened up, bundled up, and rain-slickered up. They have lifted, hauled, and moved food in the blazing heat and the freezing cold. They have been there for families in need in our community, and we are humbled by their service.
A Message from the Chair of LHR’s Board of Directors
Dear LHR Supporters,
A special thank you from the bottom of my heart for assisting Loudoun Hunger Relief through an exceedingly difficult 2020. Thanks to your generosity, LHR was able to serve our neighbors in need with enough food.
As a financially prudent organization, we were able to respond to the crisis without delay, and address the nearly quadrupled demand for food quickly, nimbly, and fully. The Loudoun Hunger Relief Board of Directors feel strongly it is important to share the impact of the resources you entrusted to us, and how we continue to utilize those resources. I hope this report gives you a glance into this past year with all its trials.
I would like to share that the families we serve are amazingly positive and resilient. Many have never needed assistance of any kind before. Families were completely unprepared for the sudden upending of familiar daily life. But as we worked, we saw the best in so many people. Our parking lot and mobile service locations became places of hope and refuge for those who needed food, but also for those of us working to provide it.
Most importantly, LHR will be here for those who need food now and in the future. Our strategic planning has morphed and changed, but never stopped. We continue to move forward with the goal of providing our neighbors in need with the best service possible, no matter what surprises come our way.
In the fall of 2021, LHR will enter its 30th year of service to Loudoun County. Although we don’t celebrate three decades of need for emergency food services, we do celebrate the community support that has filled the need generously and unfailingly.
Yours in the fight against hunger,
Carol A. Barbe
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Carol Barbe – Chair
BACKFLOW TECHNOLOGY, LLC
Tom Ciolkosz – Vice Chair
Roman Blazauskas – Treasurer
SPEED PRO IMAGING – NOVA
Charlie McQuillan – Secretary
OCTO CONSULTING GROUP
MARKETING & PR CONSULTANT
Lorna Campbell Clarke
STEADMAN ALEXANDER PR
Rose Ann Domenici
QTS DATA CENTERS
Magdalene Johnson Obaji (2021 MEMBER)
ACUMEN SOLUTIONS, A SALESFORCE COMPANY
HOLLAND & KNIGHT
ROWELL & COMPANY
LOUDOUN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE