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McLean volunteers seek donations to help feed community and keep local restaurants alive

McLean Cares volunteers load food into a truck for SHARE to distribute (courtesy McLean Cares/Facebook)

With many restaurants struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of McLean residents created a group called McLean Cares to try to help keep their local eateries afloat.

Inspired by a similar Herndon organization, McLean Cares collects donations to buys meals from restaurants that they then give to residents with food insecurity.

Members of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Temple Rodef Shalom, McLean Baptist, and Lewinsville Presbyterian started the group in July 2020. They collected donations from their congregations, solicited local businesses, and applied for community grants to raise funds.

As of June 2021, they have raised $64,563, every penny of which was spent buying 5,600 meals for those who needed them.

“Our goal was simple: to support locally-owned restaurants by purchasing meals once a month and then distributing those meals to Fairfax County residents experiencing food insecurity,” said Immanuel Presbyterian member Leslie Regan, who is part of the planning team for McLean Cares.

On top of helping those who need food assistance, McLean Cares asks the restaurants to provide meals that cost no more than $10 to make. The organization then pays $11.50 per meal and asks that the extra $1.50 goes to the restaurant staff.

“The restaurants were so wonderful and the meals were incredible that they put out. We’re just so grateful to have them work with us,” Regan said. “They just jumped right in and said yes…We are so proud of how everything worked out. Several restaurant owners have told us they could not have survived without our business. And the food recipients were always so wonderfully grateful!”

While donations were coming in bundles for a while, incoming funds started to slow down as restaurants began to reopen. However, with the new Delta variant causing a new uptick in COVID-19 cases, organizers say restaurants are once again in need of some help.

McLean Cares is seeking new donations so it can purchase more meals. Interested donors can send a check with the memo line “McLean Cares” to Mary Ann Vaughan (Business Administrator) at Immanuel Presbyterian Church (1125 Savile Lane).

Donations can also be sent online through SignUp Genius to designate how many meals you would like to provide at $11.50 per meal.

The restaurants and catering companies involved include:

All of the meals have and will continue to go to local shelters, low-income housing complexes, SHARE of McLean, and local elementary schools and their families.

McLean Cares has a Facebook page to keep the community informed on their work.

“We don’t know the future and donating would be great,” Regan said. “Supporting our local restaurants by picking up [is important too]. We’re not out of the woods yet so support your local restaurants.”

Photo via McLean Cares/Facebook

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