Redistributing food to meet community needs in Northern Virginia
Kimberly Evans has lived in Loudoun County, Virginia, her whole life. Being part of a big family, Kim has always felt a sense of community around her. At home, her mother taught Kim and her siblings how to cook, along with the value of giving back to the local community.
When she started her catering business, she wanted to share her memories of being in the kitchen with her family, with others. She feels that her cooking is a tribute to her mother and grandmother and an evolution of all the things she has learned. However, she also feels a responsibility to help families that struggle with access to nutritious food and food poverty.
“I knew I could cook food for other people that needed it. It’s important for me to give back through my business. That’s been huge for me; that’s more rewarding than the profitable side of the business for me.”
In 2019, she delivered some leftover granola bars to her son’s elementary school and as she placed them in the donation box, she realized that some of the food donations weren’t very nutritious and she wanted to figure out a solution to ensure that kids who need to could access high-quality meals. As it was around the Thanksgiving holiday, she decided to cook a meal for the school, and the reaction to that was overwhelming.
Kim wanted to do more for these families and decided to make family-style meals that would last them three to four days. Kim needed to figure out where she could store those meals, and that’s when she found out about the Loudoun County Community Challenge, sponsored by Microsoft and ChangeX, and an idea called Community Fridge—a community project that’s all about redistributing surplus food to people who need it. She decided to apply to the Challenge, but her expectations were low.
“I saw the ChangeX ad. I looked at it, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, a Community Fridge. I can do some meals. My business is reopening. I’m gonna have people that wanna help.’ That’s what really drove me to ask. I really didn’t think that they would look at me. I’m like, ‘I’m just Joe Schmoe.’ They’re going to go after an organization, but when they called back, they were like, ‘Yeah, you can do this!’ I just went straight into drive mode to get people on board. The response has just been absolutely amazing.”
During this Thanksgiving holiday, Kim and her team worked tirelessly with a local pantry to provide 127 meals to 600 people, distributing over 7,000 pounds of food.
“This is bigger than a community fridge.”
Kim knows that the Community Fridge is a useful resource for others, and her county’s poverty exists, even though it’s one of the country’s wealthiest counties. She wants people to feel secure. No matter the reason, families can rely on her for access to food, without judgment.
“Knowing that this fridge is there—for people who need it—it’s just awesome, and we should all be a part of it because we should love our neighbor. We should be open to helping our neighbors no matter what they look like. So I would tell people, ‘Hey, this is a resource that’s here in our community—be a part of it, have your children be a part of it. It’s pretty awesome!’”
She encourages everyone who’s thinking about doing something in their community to go ahead and get started.
“Just step out there. If you have an idea, just think about the reach that it could have. My Dad said, ‘You get one hundred percent of what you do not ask for.’ So if you don’t ask, you’ll never get a ‘no’. Step out there and then really put some thought into where it’s going to be five to ten years from now— not just right now for instant gratification, but where people can still be a part of it. Where is the impact? Is this going to make an impact? So if you have it in your heart and say, ‘Okay, I know that down the road that this is going to grow and I can do this’ —like I did—then I say go for it, definitely go for it.”
It’s incredible to see what one person can do to make such a difference in their community. Microsoft and ChangeX appreciates starters like Kim and others across the United States and the United Kingdom for being a part of the program and inspiring others to “go for it”.
Kimberly Evans started a Community Fridge in her local community as part of the Loudoun County Community Challenge, supported by Microsoft.