As the pandemic continues, some Arlington families are having difficulty meeting their basic needs. There are people that are going through layoffs or a decrease in work hours, among other problems that affect income. This makes adults and children more likely to experience food insecurity. According to Feeding America, 1 in 4 children may experience food insecurity this year due to the coronavirus.
There is a difference between food insecurity and hunger. The USDA defines food insecurity as the lack of available financial resources for food while hunger is the physical sensation of discomfort.
Organizations around Arlington are doing their best to help during these hard times. Just this past Saturday, Dog Haus Biergarten held a food drive to assist Arlington Charities food pantry.
For the fifth year this summer, the Arlington Public Library is offering free meals to children under 18 years of age. The program started on May 20th and will run through August 5th. Meals were originally being distributed on Mondays and Wednesdays but as of June 15, the library extended the days and times due to high demand. The library stated, “We are seeing higher demand than normal. We’ve already served more meals in the first four weeks of this summer than we did all summer last year.”.
The program is held in three branch locations:
- Downtown Library – 10:30 am to 12:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays
- East Arlington Branch – 11:15 am to 1:15 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays
- Southeast Branch – 1:45 pm to 3:45 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays
It is a drive-through where families can pick up food while staying in their cars. In order to receive a meal, the only requirement is that the child must be present. Families can pick up two days worth of meals on Monday or Tuesday and three days worth on Wednesday or Thursday. Meals include breakfast and lunch.
The library stated in an Instagram post that the service will be different this time around because of social distancing. In previous years, meals were served every day and were required to be eaten at the library. To follow safety protocols, this year the program was made a drive-through, meals are to be taken home, and pickups are two days a week. The staff will be wearing masks and visitors are encouraged to wear them as well.
The summer meals program was started in 2015 and it is made possible by a collaboration between the Arlington Public Library and City Square. City Square is a non-profit organization that provides help and resources to those in poverty.
Currently, all the Arlington library branches are open at 50% capacity and are available for walk-ins and curbside pick up from Monday to Saturday.