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West End Pantry Completes Three Years in Alexandria

West End Food Pantry celebrated its third birthday on October 28 among volunteers. West End Food Pantry was the first food pantry to open in the west end of Alexandria on October 24, 2016. Behind the table with the birthday cake, the shelves were loaded with fresh produce, beans, rice, canned food, pancake mix and a selection of pastries and bread donated by Panera.
Cutting the birthday cake at West End Pantry, Monday, October 28. From left: Creamilda Yoda, parish administrator and first-year seminary student, Louise Bennett, Kat Turner, Rev. Jo Belser, Church of the Resurrection.
According to, "Kathy Parnell, on the dawn patrol, picks up Panera bread before 6 a.m. at the Inova Fairfax Hospital. "Today I got four boxes of bread, one of the bagels, one of the baguettes and one mixed cookies and pastries." She points out they also have a freezer which allows them to have meat to offer, this week "mostly chicken." Fresh fruits and vegetables are gleaned from the Farmer's market, and there is a refrigerator full of eggs from the man they call "the egg man." Reverend Jo Belser, Rector of Church of the Resurrection, says, "We have fed approximately 12,000 in the last three years since we opened." She says they ask for identification to prove Alexandria residency but then there is no further reporting like some of the other programs. "This discourages participation." As per, "The West End Food pantry began in the Church of the Resurrection building just down the street. But the church was torn down to make way for a new church and 113 affordable housing units, mostly for families, the pantry moved to St. James Mission House on Fillmore Street. "We want people to be able to live in this area, especially in this corridor. We have lost 10,000 housing units since 2000," Belser says."

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