If you’re like me and grew up in the Valley or have lived here for a while, it may be hard to fathom the fact that more then 31,000 of our Valley neighbors struggle with food insecurity. Maybe it’s because the majority of us convey the middle class persona –  we work hard in our jobs and take pride in our work. We treasure our families and would do anything for them. We drive nice cars and trucks in order to safely transport our loved ones to school and church. We have built nice homes with our hard-earned dollars. However, with each layer peeled back, a harsh reality is revealed for many of our neighbors. That beautiful home may merely be a shell with no furniture or empty cupboards. The nice car or truck may be the only reliable transportation available. Maybe that job is not full-time work, it does not include benefits or pays low wages. The family that looks healthy and fed may resort to watering down their food to make it last longer or only eating one full meal a day. Some parents even skip meals in order to feed their children. Yes, friends, this is our reality… right here in the Shenandoah Valley. These are our neighbors, our family members, our colleagues and friends and one in every 12 of them struggles with food insecurity.

Like the rolling hills and ridges of the Valley, the landscape of hunger is complex. Every individual we serve at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and our 212 partner agencies has a personal challenge to overcome. As difficult as it is to ask for help, our neighbors seek the support they need because they care for their families and their loved ones as much as we care for ours.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

As a member of the Food Bank’s Development Team, I am proud to work with businesses who also care and want to make a positive impact in their region by helping its most vulnerable residents.

Valley Businesses Give Back is a central Shenandoah Valley initiative that provides the opportunity for businesses or organizations in the cities of Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg and Lexington, and Augusta, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Buena Vista and Bath Counties to Give Back to our hungry neighbors and lead the community by example. First launched in 2011, Valley Businesses Give Back has collectively raised more than $24,000 and brought in more than 46,000 pounds of food to benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. All told, we’ve been able to provide more than 134,000 meals to Shenandoah Valley families as a result.

Engagement in this year’s food and fund drive has been energizing as these images indicate. Soon, we’ll announce the results of this year’s drive. In the meantime, we want to thank this year’s participants for their unwavering commitment to our community and the flourishing of the Shenandoah Valley.




Carries serves as the Associate Director of Development. She helps donors connect their passions with opportunities to nourish food-insecure neighbors in need.