In Northern Virginia this summer, two local nonprofits, Food Justice DMV and Nurturing Families, are doing their part to help school staff and immigrant families.
Denise Woods is the founding director of Food Justice DMV and said she founded the organization after accompanying people to their US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) registrations.
Two people she was accompanying explained that they were running out of food for themselves and their families due to spending money to get to the tapings for fear of being deported. Woods said that was when she and her team decided to turn their hotline into a food distribution organization for more than 200 families.
In a “massive act of solidarity”, the organization was split between radio stations and Facebook and Woods said within days that the number of asylum seekers had increased. Currently, the organization supports 7,000 asylum-seeking families in the region.
Food Justice DMV tries to accomplish “a lot of things,” Woods says, by reducing food insecurity and supporting people who have no other access to government resources, the organization’s primary focus. Many families supported by the organization are undocumented and have fled their country to save their children and themselves.
Woods said she believes Food Justice DMV is the “only organization that actually supports this multi-jurisdictional organization dedicated solely or primarily to undocumented people.”
Woods said the organization is being greeted with a “sea of gratitude” by those who benefit, with many members fearing “when the next plate of food will come for their children.” Some of the challenges Food Justice DMV has faced are nearly running out of money “eight times over” and having to cut back on “the most basic foods,” such as tortillas, for people of Latin descent, due to the ‘inflation. With 250 volunteers, Woods said “every penny goes to families,” with $991,000 raised over the past two years.
“We receive overwhelming gratitude and love for what we do,” Woods said. “It’s incredible to experience and it’s an honor to be in the fight with them.”
Nurturing Families is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that offers seasonal programs including back-to-school support, winter coat distribution, and a holiday shop. Currently, the organization is raising money to buy supplies for students at Woodson Elementary School near Falls Church, which also includes a Facebook page that ensures teachers and staff have the supplies they need when the time comes. school resumes.
Sherry Noud is the executive director and founder of Nurturing Families and started the organization after realizing the need for a program to help distribute free new car seats. “As a mother herself,” Noud felt she needed to create a local organization that was “ready to be a liaison between the health department and families.”
Nurturing Families’ mission is to support low-income families so they can nurture their children to “reach their full potential” and “protect them from harm.”
While the organization was distributing car seats, it was able to provide car seats to over 1,000 children in the community, while teaching parents how to use them correctly. During the pandemic, Noud said the organization was able to collect thousands of diapers and books for a baby’s needs and a book drive during the pandemic.
For the next three to five years, Noud said the organization’s goal is to “increase the services” that Nurturing Families has to offer. To do this, the program should identify sources of funding that would allow it to “sustain support for communities”.