On Saturday, April 24th, local non-profit Food for Neighbors held one of their many annual Red Bag events, in order to provide local middle and high school students who receive free and reduced meals while in school with food for the weekends.

In Fairfax County, one in four children go hungry every day. Luckily, FCPS provides free and reduced price breakfasts and lunches provided Monday through Friday. However, this leaves students without food over the weekends. When then PTA president Karen Joseph learned this, she was “troubled”. Although some elementary schools provided weekend meals, they were unable to take on the needs of older students. So in 2016, Joseph and her husband Mark founded Food for Neighbors in order to provide food on the weekends to middle and high school students.

The flagship program of Food for Neighbors is the Red Bag Program. The Red Bag program allows individuals to shop for nonperishable items at their convenience and set it on their doorstep.

This past weekend, Food for Neighbors hosted a food collection event at Luther Jackson Middle School. The five year old non-profit received a record amount of food: over 21,000 pounds of food from over 1,200 households. Several special guests were in attendance, including LJMS principal Mike Magliola, and school board members Karl Frisch, Lara Jane Cohen, and Dr. Ricardi Anderson.

Food for Neighbors works with over 23 schools, and has over 1,5000 families committed to donating food, as well as over 1,000 volunteers collecting, sorting, and distributing the food.

Said Area Manager Paula Prettyman, “I can’t imagine my children being hungry and I want to do something that helps eliminate that problem for the families whose children my girls are with at school. We are fortunate to live in Northern Virginia where many households have plenty and are generous in sharing it. Food For Neighbors makes contributing and volunteering very easy to do.”

Food for Neighbors works within the school district as an Ignite Partner, so that social workers, counselors, and parent liaisons can identify students in need and provide them with food or grocery gift cards.

“In addition to helping the students nutritionally, this reliable food source enhances their connection with their schools, which also encourages school attendance,” Prettyman said.

To learn more about how you can get involved at If your child or a child you know is experiencing food insecurity, go to

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