As the D.C. area heads into the holiday season, hunger continues to be an unwelcome guest at hundreds of thousands of local homes.
"Our nonprofit partners are seeing anywhere from 25 percent to 100 percent increase in visitors this year," says Christel Hair, chief development officer for the Capitol Area Food Bank.
And those visitors are increasingly diverse, she says.
"It used to be a few years ago that it was the same folks, they knew them by name," Hair says. "Now, they're seeing new faces in the middle class, college students, families that are combining their resources because of lost jobs."
Many of those going hungry, or at risk of going hungry, in the D.C. region are children. The No Kids Hungry campaign in Maryland is working to address the problem of child hunger, says Anne Sheridan, who works with the organization. Schools are good place to deal with hunger for kids.
"Half a million children in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are at risk of hunger," Sheridan says. "And schools are a central place to help connect kids to more meals."
That's why No Kids Hungry works to improve relationships with school systems, she says. "The challenge is to work creatively and collaboratively with school systems and help them do a better job of connecting kids to programs like school breakfast, after school meals and other opportunities that they have to get a nutritious meal."