With some in-person food drives and volunteering taking a backseat to safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, Move For Hunger has begun exploring ways to help deliver fresh farm produce to those who need it most and prevent it from going to waste. Some of our partners in the moving and relocation industry are already in the game.
Don Queeney has been in the moving business full time since 1982. His Suffolk, Virginia-based company, Hampton Roads Moving and Storage, an agent of Arpin Van Lines, often relocates military families, touching on average 32 families per day. Queeney first realized that he could play a role in fighting hunger when he saw that even some of these service men and women were food insecure: “What’s crazy about that,” he says, “is we see some food insecurity with our military members, and that is so wrong.”
Since 2009, Hampton Roads has helped Move For Hunger transport over 650,000 pounds of non-perishables and counting to local food banks, providing more than 540,000 meals.
Inspired by JK Moving Services’ Community Farm, Queeney and his company have recently entered the world of fresh produce. Queeney, his wife Brenda, and their son Chad have built and maintained a garden full of fresh vegetables on their property. Though their first year was a learning process that involved battles with weeds and animals, they still managed to harvest 2,000 pounds of produce for Healthy Chesapeake, a nonprofit organization whose Garden 2 Table initiative encourages the development of community gardens for growing food. Hampton Roads grows the produce, and Healthy Chesapeake delivers it to local food banks - though Queeny has also used his own moving trucks to transport the harvests whenever necessary.
And that’s not all - Hampton Roads also delivers weekly loads of produce from supermarkets and farm gleanings to local food banks, and provides their trucks for transport at FM99 and 106.9 The Fox’s annual Mayflower Marathon food drive for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
Since the first harvest, Queeney’s produce-growing operation has expanded. He now employs a gardener to manage operations and logistics, and welcomes his Hampton Roads employees and local youth and volunteer groups to help harvest. Looking forward, he hopes to grow the productivity of the garden without having to increase its footprint - he’s predicting at least 5,000 pounds harvested this year to give back to the community.
His advice for other companies that want to get involved? Reach out to farms and produce-growers, and start small: “Don’t think that a patch of land alongside your building that you’re currently just cutting grass on won’t be helpful,” he says, “Because if a community had a hundred of such little places, we could feed a lot of people.”