Food for Others was founded in 1995 with a mission to distribute food to our neighbors in need by mobilizing our giving community and volunteers. We began as a continuation of Lazarus at the Gate, an earlier emergency food services program founded by Dr. George McManmon.
When Lazarus at the Gate closed in June 1995, the Department of Community Action, Fairfax County, and previous Lazarus volunteers worked together to establish Food for Others. Food for Others was incorporated on October 20, 1995.
At our start in 1995, we had a small paid staff of four and were operated almost entirely by volunteers and our Board of Directors, chaired by Ed Demoney. Food for Others began feeding local families in need through three major programs:
(1) distributing food directly from our Merrifield warehouse,
(2) serving as a food bank for our community partners, and
(3) providing food at our neighborhood sites throughout Fairfax County.
In 2011, Food for Others added our fourth food distribution program, the Power Pack Program (P3), which provides weekend backpack food to students at Fairfax County elementary schools during the school year.
Food for Others introduced client choice in July 2016. The choice program was upgraded in 2020 into an enclosed area called My Market. In 2017, Food for Others joined forces with Burke Pediatrics, several county offices and the Capital Area Food Bank to start our Rx for Food program. Through the Rx for Food program, doctors screen their patients for food insecurity and refer them to Food for Others with a prescription for food.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Food for Others expanded our programs with CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding. We added six new CARES Community Partners and began operating eight new mobile food pantry sites. Although CARES funding has ended, we’ve continued to operate our mobile food pantry sites.
In January 2023, Food for Others opened a new and improved My Market. The space includes a client choice center and empowerment-focused space. Families will be able to choose their own grocery items while also having access to wrap around services that will help them out of food insecurity.
For the past 28 years, Food for Others has established itself as an essential part of Northern Virginia’s safety. In our first year of operation, we served about 105 families per month. All these years later, we’re serving roughly 3,000 families per week and 3,181 students each week via P3.