Wednesday’s ambling and ramblings took me to, among other places, the Arlington Food Assistance Center, where I had the chance to talk to Charlie Meng, the longtime chief of the community’s food pantry.
Good news: Charlie told me that AFAC’s count of participating families, which had spiked 49 percent at the height of the COVID crisis last fall, is down to being nearly on par with pre-COVID levels.
One reason: Jobs that had been lost early in the pandemic are now coming back, which is good news all the way around. (You can ask any economist how things are going, and the best you’ll get is a guesstimate from an ivory tower, but the AFAC numbers are a pretty darn good barometer of the current situation on the ground at any given point in time.)
Of course, the other issue is that many of the working-class residents of Arlington are getting forced out due to gentrification and rising housing prices, so they are no longer clients of AFAC. The county government talks a good game about affordable housing, but again, facts on the ground are the only ones that count.
Plans for AFAC include expansion of services to areas near Arlington, like Culmore and parts of Alexandria. In essence, the social-safety-net provider will be following its clients as they try to find truly affordable housing.
It was good to tour the new AFAC warehouse space, which is set to be operational in the fall. Will be a major upgrade.
ICELANDAIR TAKES ANOTHER SHOT: News came this week that, if all goes well, Icelandair will come back next spring for a third shot at serving Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, with seasonal service to Keflavik, Iceland, and thence to European destinations.
(This will be in addition to service from Dulles, which has been in place for a couple of years.)
Back in the day, I used Icelandair a couple of times (perhaps thrice?), and the most intriguing part was the fact that the terminal in Iceland went from empty to packed to the gills for a brief period each day, when the flights from the U.S. and Europe arrived in early morning and transferred passengers back and forth. It was a crazy scene as everybody (except those who were stopping off in Iceland) went from one gate to another in a well-choreographed scene.
There are other flights throughout the day, but just on huge rush, as described above. For those who like a bit of (but not too much) controlled chaos with their travel, it was a fun adventure.
— Scott McCaffrey