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Ampersand Food Pantry Expansion

Burnett & Williams is working to provide daily free lunches to our neighbors in need, with the help of local restaurants and generous community members!

Burnett & Williams is proud to be dedicating time and resources to helping those in need during this uncertain time. In Leesburg, we’re expanding our Ampersand Food Pantry Project to offer free restaurant lunches to neighbors who are hungry. We know that all over Virginia, many members of our service communities are dealing with various life-altering repercussions of the coronavirus-related shut-downs, and that many among us are experiencing job loss and financial insecurity. Knowing that some families are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet, we have made it a priority to do what we can to help. 

Food insecurity is an issue that our firm cares deeply about. In the past we’ve supported food pantries in Richmond, Dulles, Winchester, and Midlothian.  Even before the current coronavirus crisis, Peter Burnett established the Ampersand Pantry Project to stock local stand-alone food and supply pantries.  The food pantry boxes — like the one Peter built and installed on the property of Crossroads Baptist Church, at 850 Edwards Ferry Road NE — are meant to be a community resource for neighbors who may find themselves unexpectedly in need of food or other personal essentials like diapers. In April, Burnett & Williams expanded The Ampersand Pantry Project to 338 East Market Street, where every day at 11:30am free, healthy lunches are being given to anyone who needs them.

With the help of a different local restaurant each day, and with the financial support of a number of generous donors, we are handing out nutritious meals on a first-come, first-served basis. Our building — formerly a bank and across the street from the MacDonald’s —  has a little window in the back, which we’ve rigged with a 10-foot food-slide to deliver the lunches without anyone having to come into close physical contact. Our volunteer waitstaff is set up in the bare-bones space — no heat, no electricity, no plumbing —  surrounded by boxes of food on makeshift tables. The volunteers deliver the desired number of meals down the socially-distanced length of the slide, no questions asked. On April 15th we served 25 meals. By April 30th we were serving 300 meals in just 90 minutes! We also started handing out diapers and baby wipes, because we know that those necessary supplies can be a real budget burden for many young families.

We are thrilled to be able to give a hand to so many of our hungry neighbors, while at the same time helping boost the business of the many local restaurants and workers who are participating. We have more than a dozen local restaurants preparing food for us each week at a discounted rate that helps them stay in business. We pay restaurants a per-lunch stipend that is calculated to cover food cost, which supports the food supply chain, and a bit more to cover some of the cost of keeping their staff on the payroll. Many restaurants are still open during the pandemic, but on a take-out only basis, which means that they are generally operating at a much lower meals-per-day rate than usual.

We’ve set up a GoFundMe page to ask for donations to our ever-growing project, and we have been blown away by people’s generosity. As of May 1, we’ve raised more than $22,000 for the project! Donations are coming in steadily enough that we anticipate being able to provide 300 lunches per day, 7 days per week, until at least June 1, and maybe longer. We also have a facebook group that people can join to learn more about how to get involved, or how to get your restaurant involved. Since Burnett & Williams was founded in Leesburg in the 1980s, we’ve felt privileged to serve an incredible community, but the amount of enthusiastic support we’ve received from restaurants and individuals alike for this lunch project has truly been inspiring. Please help us do more by donating and getting involved if you can!