Catholic Charities: Urgent food donations needed at food banks

In Virginia, the Catholic Charities of Arlington is calling out for an immediate need in food donations, which have dropped off 45% lately.

“The demand is actually the same or a little higher. What’s not keeping up is the donations,” said Art Bennett, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Arlington Diocese.

Bennett said he thinks “pandemic fatigue” may have set in at a time when help is still needed.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a huge outpouring of support from those who were able to give, and some nonprofit organizations were flooded with help.

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But the pandemic hasn’t subsided, and neither has the demand for help.

“We’ve had people who used to drop off food and give us food to distribute to people in need, and now those same people are coming to us on the other end of the line, asking for food,” he said.

Early on, Bennett said Catholic Charities received “more donations than we’ve ever had before.”

So far, people have donated more than 935,000 pounds of food — more than double what’s normally given out by now.

But the number of people being served rose 154%, he said.

The increase in need comes as many churches around the region are either closed or operating with reduced capacity. Often, Bennett said, much gets donated by people going to church.

How to help

Catholic Charities of Arlington has three food pantries — in Alexandria, Front Royal and Leesburg — that all take donations of nonperishable items.

The Alexandria pantry is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays at Christ House at 131 West St.

The Leesburg pantry accepts food from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

In Front Royal, Loaves and Fishes is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays.

The St. Lucy Food Project warehouse in Manassas takes donations around the clock, and a rotating list of churches accepts donations every weekend. Here’s where to find a food drive.

Money can be donated to Catholic Charities to buy food, or you could have food delivered through an Amazon wish list.

“You go to Amazon. You order some food, and boom, they deliver to our warehouse and we’re off to the races,” said Bennett. “It’s very easy.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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