Sometimes when we start pulling together stories for our print publication, themes emerge. One tightly focused article hints at an underlying story, another points to the same. Before we know it, a third joins the pile.  

Reading beneath the headlines, a common theme in several of our recent articles is poverty. 

Fauquier’s horse farms and beautiful estates may get a lot of attention, but Fauquier is not one size fits all. Some folks are struggling.  

One of the barriers to addressing poverty is finding those who need help. There is no email list for families below the poverty line. 

The Department of Social Services this week reached out to people who don’t have a permanent place to live. Because these folks may be “off the grid” -- living with friends, renting motel rooms or in other temporary situations, there is no easy way to connect those in need with the help that is available. The DSS set up tables in front of a local motel and contacted residents living in transitional housing. By asking for input, staffers hope to be able to focus their efforts on the areas of greatest need. 

Low-income workers often struggle with healthcare, so it was big news last week when the Fauquier Free Clinic announced it will now be able to serve residents who receive Medicaid. Until the change, the clinic was only able to treat patients with no insurance of any kind.  

There are several programs in the county that provide nutrition to families in need. Fauquier FISH, the Fauquier Community Food Bank, the Fauquier Education Farm and now, the Warrenton Farmers Market, are all trying to help less-affluent families put healthy food on their tables.  

The town persevered to complete a complicated, drawn-out process to allow families who quality for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to use their benefits at the Saturday Farmers Market.  

 

Fresh fruits and vegetables are not a regular feature at most food banks. The food available, although life-saving for many families, is often packaged and made to last a long time on the shelves. 

Making Farmers Market produce and meat available to those using SNAP benefits is a game changer. Supermarkets offer fresh produce too, of course, but there is something about those layers of fresh lettuces, crates of cantaloupes and bins of brightly colored beets that are irresistible.  

Cooking demonstrations are presented every first Saturday of the month at the market for those who are not used to cooking fresh food at home. Who knows how many families will be inspired to try a new cauliflower recipe after returning home with a bag of fresh produce?  

And local farmers – who themselves battle razor-thin profit margins – have an opportunity to attract new customers. 

Building excitement about fresh food and home cooking is good for everyone. 

 

(13) comments

Lee Owsley

Thank you so very much for this article. It's true that it's easy NOT to see poverty in beautiful Fauquier County so this helps put good focus on the problem. It was great to see some ways needs are being met as well. Please follow up with more articles on this important topic.

vcarlson12

Great editorial. Would like to see more articles like this!

SDRW

We have an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have nots, not just in Fauquier County, but all over the nation. Thank you for bringing this issue to light. It is not just raising the minimum wage, it is putting the brakes on runaway price gouging for medical care and medications as well as housing. We also need reliable infrastructure such as affordable public transportation. No problem is without a solution, some we just have to work harder to find. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that will not work". It has become commonplace that we give up way too early in the game because it is "not be as profitable as (something else)" or "it is too hard". We, as a species, have accepted this failure for more than 3500 years. Maybe we should try harder to fix what is important. You never know where the next innovator may come from and it would be a shame for them to be overlooked because they didn't fit a mold or weren't conveniently from the right background or maybe didn't pass a test because they were so hungry they could not concentrate. Let's fix this together because we are stronger together, always.

DJ

I see so many people face the domino effect of one support failing and then spiraling down. A broken car, leads to a lost job, leads to lost housing. As a mental health practiioner, I see a lot of need for support services of affordable housing and increased transportation. Kudos on a timely and insightful editorial.

Linden Knight

[thumbup] Thank you for your words about poverty in our county. I believe our greatest unmet needs for the poor are low income housing and public transportation.

orleanva

Poverty can inflict additional challenges on those who live in rural areas. Food banks and free clinics are great resources, but for rural citizens without transportation, access to these services can be challenging. Children in rural areas are frequently at a disadvantage because internet, where it's available, is more expensive. This makes completing assignments for school a challenge, again especially when a family has no transportation. Children are unable to research papers or search for help in completing homework assignments. This problem will become worse when schools go to online textbooks. And because rural students without transportation are unable to join extracurricular activities, fewer, if any, scholarships are available to them.

Gusanchez1

Thank you for raising the awareness of poverty in our communities. As a volunteer at the Fauquier Free Clinic, I've seen families struggling to pay for basic needs like prescription medication, often forced to decide between groceries or medications. For many, food banks become a necessity in order to get by. We can all make a difference by supporting or volunteering at one of these amazing and life changing services. The need is great and there is no better feeling than helping others.

LindaM

Thank you for calling attention to a real human story in Fauquier County. I hope that it results in increased support for the programs that you listed that are providing assistance and support.

marshamelk

Thanks for this information, we all need to have our eyes opened to these people and their needs. Please keep telling us about what we can do to help.

ALM

Thank you for this important editorial! As a teacher, I see many families who struggle with food and housing insecurity. We can't expect children to learn and live up to their potential if they're hungry or wondering where they'll sleep at night. We live in a wealthy county, your editorial is a great reminder that not all who live here are so fortunate.

Scott Christian

United Way has developed a measure for economic sustainability for families called ALICE- Adjusted Limited, Income Restrained, Employed. It calculates the minimum household income needed for housing, food, transportation, healthcare and childcare. In 2015, they estimated that 8,500 households (35% of Fauquier's total) struggled to meet these basic needs. Thank you for bringing to our attention what organizations are doing to lend a helping hand to our fellow citizens in need.

Keret

Outstanding editorial...…..many of the Food Bank recipients work in the mansions and fields and the Times' pointing these matters out is a great way to help recipients' feed their families while they struggle to make a living....

AmericaFirst

Just think of all the Fauquier mansions and all those empty rooms which could be housing the homeless. And all those empty acres on those horse 'farms' - imagine how many tents they could support! That would go well with food stamps at Warrenton's most expensive food outlet.

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