virginia family starts mini food pantries donating food

Virginia Family Launches Mini Food Pantries After Donating 32,000 Lbs. of Food Amid Pandemic

Amber and Sterling Marchand of Virginia decided to hold a mini food drive in their driveway to keep their four kids busy — now, it is a full sweep operation.

In June when they first began the food drive, school was over and the days spent at home were long and as most of us experienced due to the pandemic, monotonous.

virginia family starts mini food pantries donating food
Image via Instagram

The couple continued to read the news centering around food insecurity due to the pandemic and they quickly came up with an idea.

They decided to host a food drive outside their home with their kids Foster, 9, Quinn, 7, Ford, 5, and Milo, 3. Sterling purchased a big box from their local hardware store, the kids designed a sign, and Amber informed neighbors, asking them to donate canned goods and non-perishable food. 

“It just exploded,” Amber, 39, an artist and former corporate consultant shares. “The box just kept filling and filling.”

The Marchands decided they could help more and just a few weeks later, they launched “Be The Good Project,” a non-profit where the family could raise money to purchase food in bulk and donate meals to other nonprofits, food pantries and people in need. 

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“We’re seeing this combination of a historic high in terms of people needing extra help in food, and at the same time, a strain on the traditional services that have tried to meet that need in the past,” said Sterling, a litigation attorney at Baker Botts in Washington, D.C. 

“So we thought, ‘What’s a simple way our family can help out?'” 

Amber estimates they’ve delivered 32,000 pounds of food and delivered more than 52,000 sandwiches to Martha’s Table (a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that feeds people in need) in the past eight months.

The sandwiches are packed and dropped off at the Marchands’ front door by hundreds of local volunteers and usually consist of peanut butter and jelly. On occasion, the sandwiches can be different meat and cheese combinations. Volunteers even add notes of encouragement in the lunch bags they drop off for the people who will be enjoying them. 

virginia family starts mini food pantries donating food
Image via Instagram

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Even their kids have jumped in on the action — packing sandwiches, encouraging their classmates to volunteer and joining their parents on delivery runs.

“Our three-year-old, Milo, will always ask when he sees the food stockpiled in our kitchen, ‘Is this food for us or food for neighbors?'” Amber shares. “It’s taught them how to think and care about other people.” 

The family’s house has become the unofficial headquarters for “Be The Good Project” — with five mini-fridges in their laundry room, two more full-size fridges in the garage to hold all the donations, plus stacks of boxes in the living room, which hold non-perishable donations. 

“We’re in awe,” Amber says of the continuing donations. “It restores your hope in people just to see how willing they are to help people they don’t even know, to just jump in and be so generous with their time.”

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