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Arlington Food Assistance Center preps to celebrate 35 years

Major event honoring anniversary coming in spring 2024

When it began life in 1988, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) distributed food at two sites to fewer than 100 families.

As it marks its 35th anniversary this week, the organization now helps support more than 3,200 families per week at 20 distribution locations.

“Our founders saw a need and thought their volunteer work could find a solution,” the organization’s CEO, Charlie Meng, said in marking the anniversary. “Through 9/11, a housing crisis, government shutdowns, COVID-19 and now inflation, AFAC has remained committed to our mission to alleviate food insecurity in Arlington.”

To mark the anniversary, AFAC has set in motion plans for a special event next April, celebrating achievements and recognizing the work of volunteers, donors, staff and community partners through the years.

“AFAC is not the work of any one person, but the work of 2,000 volunteers, 24 staff members, thousands of food donors, and many more who have given their financial support to make sure the least fortunate in our community will have the food they need to sustain their families,” Meng said.

According to an oral history conducted by the Center for Local History at the county library system, the organization began distributing food in a Red Cross van purchased at the Capital Area Community Food Bank. The group initially delivered to a small, rotating list of families provided by local churches. Its early founders were Anne Rudd, William Knull and Anna Barber, who had attended Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ together.

For information on the organization, see the Website at