Virtual Food Drive: Be the Reason We are Able to Feed Our Hungry Neighbors

by Will Espinoza | November 22, 2019

Imagine for a moment that you are an immigrant to this country, trying to build a better life for you and your family. You work hard, sometimes at multiple jobs just to support your family’s most basic needs. To further improve your life and to increase your chances of securing a job that pays even more, you enroll in Catholic Charities’ English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and spend several evenings a week sitting in a classroom to learn English. Now imagine sitting through an ESOL class trying to learn a new language on an empty stomach because you didn’t have time to eat during your day job or jobs. You also didn’t have enough money to bring a meal to class because you spent your last few dollars to take public transportation to get to class. Would you be able to fully concentrate on your work? Would you have energy left after a full day’s work to sit and learn a new language? Would you be able to focus long enough to absorb and apply what you’ve learned? No, of course not. Sadly, this scenario is very real for hundreds of the dedicated students in our ESOL program.

At Catholic Charities, we are all too familiar with how
hunger affects the thousands of families living in poverty in our community. We
also know that food insecurity takes many forms and there is no
one-size-fits-all approach to addressing this problem. So, to combat hunger in
the DC region, Catholic Charities recently launched its third annual Virtual Food Drive.

To fully understand the scope of the issue in our community
alone, consider this troubling, eye-opening data from Feeding America:

  • There are approximately 27,990 children in
    Prince George’s Country who go to bed hungry each night.
  • The District has a food insecurity rate of 14.5%
    due to factors including food deserts and many families living significantly below
    the federal poverty line.
  • More than 82,000 people suffer from some form of
    food insecurity in DC – 31,000 of whom are children.

The Virtual Food Drive is a unique approach to fighting the
various forms of food insecurity, raising money to support not one, but four
food assistance programs.

By giving to the Virtual Food Drive, you will ensure that
vulnerable populations have access to nutritional food that fits their specific
needs through initiatives including:

  • Southern
    Maryland Food Bank
    – This holiday season, the Southern Maryland Food Bank,
    with generous support from donors, will provide families struggling with food
    insecurity everything they need for a delicious holiday dinner including a ham.
    Food Network
    – A SHARE food package filled with fresh fruits and
    vegetables, frozen protein, and shelf staples will provide stability for
    participants in the Welcome Home Reentry program as they transition back into
    society after incarceration.
  • St.
    Maria’s Meals
    – Sixty people living on the streets will be served healthy,
    protein-packed sandwiches each week as part of St. Maria’s Meals Bike Brigade.
    Volunteers pedal adult-sized tricycles outfitted with delivery baskets into the
    community, meeting the homeless where they are.
  • Cup of
    – Hundreds of men and women enrolled in Catholic Charities’ evening
    ESOL classes will receive snack packs before each class to give them the
    sustenance to excel in their studies and reduce their food insecurity.

Catholic Charities has been on the front lines of the fight
against hunger in the region. Last year alone, we provided more than 2.5
million meals to those in need and distributed more than 1 million pounds of
food to local pantries. More than 28,000 people were served through our weekly
St. Maria’s Meals dinner program, and more than 32,000 people were able to
purchase affordable, nutritious groceries through the SHARE Food Network.

Please be the reason that we are able to feed our neighbors,
so we don’t have to imagine what it’s like to struggle to learn valuable skills
on an empty stomach; or what it’s like to be a returning citizen who can’t
afford nutritious groceries after being incarcerated; or what it’s like to
wonder how to provide your family with the delicious meal they deserve for the
holiday; or what it’s like to live on the street, in the cold, wondering when-
or even if you’ll get your next meal. Be the reason that food insecurity
doesn’t prevent those in need from experiencing the hope and joy of the holiday

Go to the page 
for information on how to donate and volunteer. You also can contribute to the
Virtual Food Drive by liking and sharing our Facebook posts, retweeting our
Twitter posts and sharing word with your family, friends, co-workers and