With all of the freebies and discounts offered by restaurants and the service in Arlington to furloughed federal employees, it's easy to gloss over the effects the 16-day shutdown on the federal government had here.
The Arlington Food Assistance Center, or AFAC, saw those effects first-hand.
"The shutdown hurt so many of the families we serve," the food pantry's executive director, Charles Meng, said this week.
Over the past two weeks, 96 new families came to AFAC to get food. On a typical Wednesday, AFAC provides food to 125 individuals. This past Wednesday, that number was 200.
The food pantry is opening new distribution centers, but the majority of the new people in need went to AFAC's main site on South Nelson Street in the Shirlington area.
AFAC serves 3,500 people in Arlington each week; nearly one-third of those are children.
"We, as a community, have banded together to help those less fortunate than us," Meng said Wednesday at an AFAC benefit that featured top local chefs competing in a live cooking contest with Arlington firefighters.
AFAC helps provide food to a number of organizations in the community, including three churches that have meals programs, affordable housing nonprofits and advocates for the homeless and abused and at-risk women and families.
"We help out whatever way we can," Meng told Patch.