StatisticsWhy We Exist
Originally formed in 1987, Western Fairfax Christian Ministries provides compassionate, life-essential services to reduce hunger and the risk of homelessness among the working poor and those in chronic financial crises, empowering and encouraging clients to achieve financial self-sufficiency.
Fairfax County Statistics:
- 62,000 people live below poverty level in Fairfax County (defined as an annual income of $22,000 for a family of four), and another 86,000 live just above poverty.
- Approximately 1,350 people are literally homeless in the Fairfax-Falls Church community; children in families count for one third (452). Data from “2012 Point-in-time Count,” http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless/homelessness-in-our-community.htm
- In the 2012-2013 school year Fairfax County Public Schools reported that 44,018 students (or 25.5% of enrollment) received free and reduced-price meals. (http://www.fcps.edu/fs/food/serve/free-reduced.shtml)
- Over 69,000 Fairfax County residents are at risk of experience hunger; one in six children under 18 is at risk of hunger.
- Despite a high median income and low unemployment rate in Northern Virginia, 24 percent of households do not earn enough to meet basic monthly expenditures such as food, housing, and transportation.
Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest areas of the United States. This wealth often obscures the fact that a substantial number of low-income individuals and families live here. Fairfax County is home to more than 62,000 individuals who live below poverty. It is likely that many of these low-income residents struggle to feed their families a nutritious and sufficient amount of food. This struggle is further complicated because poverty measures used by federal food programs to determine eligibility for benefits do not take into consideration varying costs of living among jurisdictions.
Because of the high cost of living in Fairfax County, low-income households find it particularly challenging to meet their basic needs of food, housing and medical care. Households under economic stress experience a higher likelihood of periodic food insecurity as they make choices on how to budget their limited resources.
The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies.” People with very low food security include those where the “eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food during a twelve month period.”
Local Community - Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, and Fairfax Station
Households that seek emergency food assistance often are those experiencing very low food security. These households tend to struggle to feed their members a nutritionally adequate diet even when they are able to obtain sufficient quantities of food. When adequate quantities of food are unavailable, they turn to emergency food supplies and it is likely that at least some members experience hunger during these times. WFCM provides food assistance through our client-choice Food Pantry stocked with food donated by the community.
An indicator of the poverty and great need in Western Fairfax County is participation in the Fairfax County Public School Free and Reduced-price meal program. The purpose of this program is to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to low-income children. While these children receive food assistance during the school year, they are particularly vulnerable to being hungry on school breaks and especially in the summer months. It is critical that WFCM’s Food Pantry be well stocked to assist in this time of crisis, to provide these families with food while their children are home during the day.
Two schools in our service area have close to 50 percent of enrollment on the Free and Reduced-price lunch program:
Brookfield Elementary - 817 students (48.47%)
London Towne Elementary – 910 students (46.37%)
- "Putting Food on the Table," a study of need in Fairfax County by Neighborhood and Community Services http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/demogrph/pdf/putting_food_on_the_table.pdf
- “Tale of Two Fairfaxes" from the Washington Post, December 25, 2010, highlighting WFCM and our services http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/25/AR2010122502003.html
- “Poverty in Fairfax County” http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/demogrph/datavis/datavis_pdf/poverty_datavis.pdf
- “The State of the Poor,” compiled by The Fairfax County Community Action Advisory Board (2012 data) http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/caab/pdf/state-of-the-poor.pdf
- “2012 Point-in-time Count,” http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless/homelessness-in-our-community.htm