ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Loaves and Fishes food pantry has been essential for many families during the pandemic. Now, they’re getting some help from across the street, thanks to students like Katharina Ravichandran.
Ravichandran is a junior at Albemarle High School and president and founder of Students Working Against Hunger (S.W.A.H.G.), a hunger relief group.
"One in six people struggle with hunger in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community and I think anybody would be shocked by that number. Immediately the first thought was, ‘How can we help?’” Ravichandran said.
How they go about helping combat hunger, though, may seem a bit unconventional. For example, this month, the group is donating pet food to Loaves and Fishes.
“We try to organize a drive every month and it won’t necessarily be human food, but it’ll be for necessities for those in need that can allow them to allocate more money to food or other things they might need," Ravichandran said.
Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Jane Colony Mills says the donation goes a long way.
“If they’ve got limited dollars, we can help them spend that money on their rent or their power bill or whatever other than having to buy additional food for their animals or diapers, which are not covered by food stamps, then we’re happy to help with that," Mills explained.
S.W.A.H.G. is also working with nearby restaurants to donate unused food that would normally go to waste.
“For example, Panera Bread is donating their excess bakery products every night and we’re connecting them with l.e.g.a.c.i. eats which does warm food and Hungry Hearts No More at Peace Lutheran Church and we’re trying to expand that program as well as find other restaurants and stores that may have excess food, as well as agencies and other organizations that may benefit from it," Ravichandran said.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Loaves and Fishes expects to serve 1,500 households. They say they’ll be able to do it, thanks to groups like S.W.A.H.G.
“It’s extremely rewarding to know that we’re helping the community, but also to know that if we identify a problem that there are so many opportunities to help in our community and for our community,” Ravichandran said.
To contact S.W.A.H.G., email: email@example.com