NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) stopped in Hampton Roads Saturday.

The drive-thru event held at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, Virginia accommodated over 800 active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and veteran families. Each household received around 50 pounds of nutritious food – including protein, a variety of seasonal produce, breakfast items, canned goods, household items, and coupons for future purchases – all at no cost.

The event is the fourth of its kind held in Norfolk since June 2021 as a nationwide effort to address the issue of food insecurity among military and veteran populations.

The campaign provides food support and connects families to community resources, brings together industry leaders to develop long-term solutions, and conducts research to identify the causal factors that lead to food insecurity.

“I wish someone had done this for me way back in the day,” said Demonica Emerey. Emerey, a retired navy journalist, is spending this hot Saturday giving back to military families.

“It would have been nice. I had 5 kids.”

Volunteers like Emery packed fresh veggies and food boxes in cars for over 200 families in the first 45- minutes.

One of the people in line was Chastity Crum, a US Navy spouse and mom of 3.

“Even just a little bit really helps especially with rising gas prices, housing prices in this area,” said Crum. “This little bit helps us kind of make ends meet when we have to decide between like extra groceries or extra gas.”

“At MFAN, we’re committed to providing both big-picture solutions and immediate on-the-ground assistance to military families experiencing food and nutrition insecurity across the country,” said Shannon Razsadin, MFAN’s president and executive director.

In 2019, MFAN’s research revealed that one in eight national survey respondents were experiencing food insecurity. That number rose to one in five in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. MFAN and its partners took action in 2021, distributing over 1 million meals to military families in need across the country.

Today’s event was made possible by Tyson Foods, who donated a truckload of protein; the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, who facilitated staff and volunteer involvement and lent industry expertise; Humana Military and Cigna / Express Scripts, who each provided funding; and the major suppliers of the commissary, who provided product.

To learn more and to join MFAN in making a difference in the lives of military families experiencing food insecurity, CLICK HERE.