Food for Others began feeding the poor December 11, 1995, continuing an earlier program of emergency food services designed as a safety net to assure no individual in Northern Virginia should go to bed hungry. The program originated in 1984 when Dr. George McManmon discovered urgent, unmet needs in Northern Virginia and formed Lazarus at the Gate to meet those needs.
The program moved to Merrifield from Falls Church in 1993 with Lazarus at the Gate abruptly discontinuing operations June 30, 1995. During the next five months the program was operated by the Department of Community Action, Fairfax County and previous Lazarus volunteers. The community had a series of meetings to determine the best means for continuing emergency food services, determined a new nonprofit was the best solution, incorporated Food for Others October 20, 1995, as a 501(c)(3) organization, and officially commenced operations six weeks later.
The overall program concept continues with three primary activities: direct food assistance at the Merrifield warehouse, food distributions at 16 neighborhood sites week nights in low-income neighborhoods and food bank operations for organizations serving families and individuals unable to meet their basic need for food.
The major difference occurring during the past 10 years is the size of the program and the volume of food distributions. During the past decade Food for Others has established extensive gleaning operations, obtained numerous groups such as the Boy Scouts and Postal workers to conduct food drives, and grown its volunteer base to meet the expanding need for food in Northern Virginia.
The greatest challenge occurred in 2001 when the demand for emergency food services skyrocketed due to a downturn in the local economy and the September 11th attack on the Pentagon. Expansion has continued since then due to a continuing large number of families experiencing unemployment or lack of sufficient income to meet their basic need for food.
There has been no shortage of community action or volunteers to meet the expanding needs with Food for Others developing the operations skill and managerial resources to serve more than 1,000 families monthly at its Merrifield warehouse, 250 to 300 families weekly in low-income neighborhoods and 1,600 families monthly through its food bank activities.
Food for Others is a virtual partnership of many persons and organizations dedicated to feeding the hidden, hungry families that exist in the underclass of Northern Virginia. Perhaps most important are the hundreds of volunteers who pick up food at donating grocery stores and distribute it to low-income neighborhoods.
Churches, schools, businesses, and foundations provide volunteers and financial support. Fairfax County is the primary financial contributor with the United Way/Combined Federal Campaign a key source of annual donations. All members of the Board of Directors are volunteers and actively involved in all aspects of operations and management, as they have been since they emerged to form and manage a new nonprofit a decade ago.