Provided by Capital Area Food Bank
For the third year, the Manassas Park Community gathered at Manassas Park High School to launch a monthly free food and resource market in partnership with Capital Area Food Bank, with funding from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, The Bell Foundation, QMT Windchimes and NOVANT Health; and human service booths run by multiple community service organizations.
Multiple donors worked together to provide a grant of $32,000 to fully support the Market Program in the City of Manassas Park for the 2017-2018 school year. This grant makes possible 6,000 pounds of food to over 200 families 10 times per year, in a community where 61% of children receive free and reduced-priced lunches throughout the school division.
The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) uses a “Family Market” model that combines food distribution with parent-teacher interactions and nutrition education. Each family takes between 28 and 30 pounds of non-perishable food and fresh produce during a market day. The families learn how to prepare their food through cooking demonstrations, and easy to use recipe cards in Spanish and English. In addition to food, market attendees have access to clothing; health screenings from nurses and dentists, books, and other community service opportunities.
A kick off ceremony led by Superintendent Dr. Bruce McDade was attended by City of Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell, Councilmember Hector Cendejas, school board chair Rachel Kirkland, Patty Baisden of QMT Windchimes, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia President Eileen Ellsworth, and Community Foundation for Northern Virginia Board Vice Chair Bernard Mustafa. The theme throughout the ceremony was community and gathering around food.
“The Family Market program is the best way to get nutritious produce and pantry items into the homes of families with school aged children. Family Markets operate under a “client choice” model, in which children and their families select their own food,” said Cecelia Vegaretti, CAFB Director of Northern Virginia. “I remember gathering around food as a child. Be it soup or an Italian dinner what I remember is being with and learning from my family at the dinner table.”
“What’s so amazing about this market is that here, we have come together as one school board, one city, one community in order to take care of each other” said Rachel Kirkland, City of Manassas Park School Board Chair. “We can’t say thank enough to the donors from so many organizations who are making this possible” said Dr. Bruce McDade “It takes food, funds and community partnerships to make this market run each and every month. It’s wonderful to see so many different groups come together to ensure that our kids get the food they need to learn.”
The Manassas Park Family Market was initially made possible by the J.O.Y. Family Charitable Fund, a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. In the years the market has run, support of this program has grown to include many more donors. “The Capital Area Food Bank is the backbone for the food distribution system in our service area,” says Eileen Ellsworth, President of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “The Manassas Family Market has become a model for how donors in our community can partner with us and support the CAFB’s capacity to feed those who suffer from hunger in Northern Virginia.”