Pop-up markets at Giant stores to help federal workers, contractors

The rally against the government shutdown occcurred Jan. 10, 2019. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — Inside the warehouse headquarters for the Capital Area Food Bank, volunteers are busy, running back and forth to fill bags with 30,000 pounds of fresh apples, carrots, potatoes and onions — all food that’ll be handed out with bags of nonperishable items too at what they’re calling “pop-up markets” throughout the D.C. area.

“We call these pop-up markets but they’re totally free of charge,” said Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank.

“We are not selling any food. We’re not selling it at reduced prices. It’s totally free of charge for those with a federal ID or a federal contractor ID.”

The grocery giveaways are on top of the normal operations of the pantries, and are being held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the parking lots of these five Giant Food grocery stores around the area:

  • 1050 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, Washington, D.C. 20018
  • 6800 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, Va. 22306
  • 10480 Campus Way South, Largo, Md. 20774
  • 7074 Allentown Road, Camp Springs, Md. 20748
  • 12051 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. 20852

The locations were chosen based on where large concentrations of federal workers and contractors live, and where they’ve been getting calls from people asking about their options.

“This past week and beyond we’ve had calls from individuals just saying ‘we know you’re the food bank, we’re not exactly sure if we qualify, where do we go, how do we navigate the system?’ said Muthiah.

So these markets are targeted at those workers “who typically would have an income level that’s high enough if you will that they don’t qualify for food stamps, but given that they’ve missed a paycheck.”

She said these pop-up markets will continue each and every Saturday “until federal workers get their next paycheck.” But calling it “an experiment,” the locations could change as other grocery stores reach out to help and the food bank is able to assess where the need is greatest.

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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