After purchasing the Piovano building in 2021, RARA set a goal of creating a safer, more welcoming space for members of the community to access food. We recently finished construction on a new waiting room, private intake offices, and a restroom for clients! We also added gondola shelves, a reach-in refrigerator and freezer, and better signage to make the experience even more like shopping at a grocery store. On Sept 14th, RARA celebrated with community partners, volunteers, board members, and staff with an official ribbon cutting.
The opening of the new space comes at a time when we are experiencing a significant increase in need for our programming. During the COVID pandemic, families received higher SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) through emergency allotments, but that program ended in March 2023. The decreased benefits, in combination with rising food prices, means that households who have never been to RARA or have not needed our services in years are turning to us for support. For instance, while the Neighborhood Grocery received an average of 573 visits per month in 2022, it is now seeing over 800 monthly visits. We are here for Rockbridge houses during this especially difficult time, but we need the continued support of our community to do so.