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Route 1 Lived Experiences Report

Food Insecurity During the Covid-19 Pandemic


View the recording from our June 29 Webinar discussion here:


Executive Summary

Download the Full Report Here

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted inequities across the country – in healthcare, the labor market, and notably in food security. We saw mile-long lines at food pantries, and heard the statistics: 45 million Americans, including 15 million children, experiencing food insecurity in the richest country in the world. 

In Fairfax County 58,000 residents were food insecure prior to the pandemic. That number is estimated to have doubled in the last year. 

This report moves the focus from faceless statistics to the human stories behind those numbers in the Route 1 Corridor in Southeast Fairfax County, where many residents struggle with issues related to poverty.

It illustrates the complexity of the food insecurity crisis in order to inform solutions that can knit together employment, affordable health care, accessible child care, adequate transportation, and a more robust safety net to support families struggling to put food on their tables in Fairfax County, the third wealthiest county in the nation. 

In this report, we chronicle the lived experience of 15 residents in the Route 1 Corridor who experienced varying levels of food insecurity because of the pandemic.

  • Parents whose food budgets were overwhelmed because their children lost access to school meals 
  • Workers whose hours were cut because of the shut down order and could not afford food and rent 
  • Employees who had to quarantine because of COVID exposure without sick pay, losing income and hours
  • Immigrants who lost their jobs but didn’t apply for federal nutrition benefits as they feared imperiling their pending citizenship because of the “public charge” prohibition 
  • Immune-compromised people who had to give up careers to take less risky but poorly paid part-time jobs to protect their health 
  • Single parents who could not work because of the lack of affordable childcare, and cobbled together meals from public assistance and food pantries 
  • Residents without cars who had limited access to grocery stores 

They told their stories to fellow members of their community, who conducted the interviews necessary to produce this report. All were compensated for their time. 

Each of their stories is different. But they share a common narrative: the global COVID pandemic pushed Fairfax County families that were already economically vulnerable to the brink. They continue to struggle to put food on the table. 

This report is a call to action for collaborative efforts that work toward building a food secure environment along the Route 1 corridor by identifying the systems that perpetuate food insecurity and working to dismantle and recreate them. 

Download the Full Report


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