Dominion donation to help area food banks

Michael McKee, center, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, accepts a $75,000 check from Emmett Toms, left, Dominion External Affairs manager, and Susan King, External Affairs representative, on Tuesday. The donation will provide 300,000 meals, enough to feed more than 3,000 Shenandoah Valley residents, including 35,900 served through the Lord Fairfax Area Food Bank in Winchester. Courtesy photo

A $75,000 donation from the Dominion Foundation will provide a month’s worth of food to 3,000 Shenandoah Valley residents.

Presented to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank on Tuesday, the donation will help fund four regional banks located in Winchester, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and the Verona headquarters.

This is an especially tough time of year for area residents, said Maria Longley, food bank communications coordinator.

“The food does go out as fast as it comes in,” she said.

But she said she is thankful so many organizations and individuals donate money and time in November and December, anticipating the great need in their communities.

“People are thinking about donating and thinking about our hungry neighbors in need,” Longley said. “We’re fortunate that we live in a generous area, and I think that if we continue to do what we’re doing, we can keep up, or we’re trying to keep up.”

At the Winchester branch, the Lord Fairfax Area Food Bank serves 35,900 residents each month through 62 partner agencies that include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelter, schools and other feeding programs in Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.

The Thomas Jefferson Area Food Bank, which includes Rappahannock County, serves about 23,000 people through 45 partner agencies. The Central Shenandoah Valley Area Food Bank includes Rockingham County and the city of Harrisonburg in its service of 27,400 people a month through 71 partner agencies.

In one month, the Winchester office serves 5.1 million meals to residents, many of whom have jobs but still don’t make enough to consistently feed themselves and their families.

“Food insecurity in the Blue Ridge area is high,” Longley said. “One in 10 people are at risk of going hungry.”

She said 144,480 people in the food bank’s service area experience food insecurity at various times of the year.

“The need is always there,” Longley said.

The donation from the Dominion Foundation is about helping people, said Daisy Pridgen, senior communications specialist for Dominion.

“The Dominion Foundation recognizes charities that either benefit the environment or benefit organizations that work to meet basic human needs,” she said. “Food banks are a part of that.”

The donation, which follows another of similar size that the power company gave the food bank last year, will help the food bank’s funding carry into the new year, Longley said.

“We’ll be using this money in our general operations to get the food to people,” she said.
“We will be able to provide 300,000 meals for about 3,000 of our clients.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com