As part of its ongoing efforts to increase support for both local residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has launched a new initiative to help feed the area’s homeless.

“The past year has been tough for so many of our residents,” said CPRO Executive Director Kim Klingler. “We want to do our part to provide for our most vulnerable populations this winter while supporting one of our newest Columbia Pike businesses, La Cocina VA.”

La Cocina VA opened its new Zero Barriers Training and Entrepreneurship Center in Columbia Pike’s Gilliam Place just this past May, and its cafe opened to the public in September. Since then, they have partnered with Latinas 4 Latinas to provide 200 Thanksgiving meals to Latino families and delivered Christmas dinners to A-SPAN and the Homeless Services Center last month.

“La Cocina VA is delighted to be able to serve the clients of A-SPAN with healthy, scratch-cooked meals through the generous donations of our neighbors,” said Paty Funegra, Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA. “We look forward to forging more bonds with members of this Northern Virginia community.”

Now La Cocina VA is providing A-SPAN with 100 meals each week through March 31 (1,300 meals in total). The meals are paid for by CPRO, who has raised nearly $9,000 so far for the initiative thanks to the generosity of the Arlington Presbyterian Church, E.G. Reinsch Companies, and other anonymous donors.

While the Homeless Services Center has its own kitchen and chef, the COVID-19 pandemic has made feeding the Center’s clients more difficult. Previously, the organization would rely on generous food donations and preparation assistance from volunteers, but with tightening restrictions on gatherings and food safety the organization can only accept food prepared in a certified kitchen. And during this year’s winter months, known as “hypothermia season,” A-SPAN has expanded its shelter capacity to accommodate 35 more clients than in previous months.

“A-SPAN is incredibly grateful for our partnerships with CPRO and La Cocina VA that will help to alleviate the financial strain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to providing healthy and safe meals for our clients,” said A-SPAN President/CEO Betsy Frantz. “We can accomplish so much more when we partner with other organizations and friends to serve the needs of our homeless neighbors in Arlington.”

CPRO is currently looking to raise just $500 more to fully fund the meal deliveries through March 31, the end of hypothermia season. To learn more about the initiative or make a donation, please visit UPDATE: this program is fully funded thanks to our generous donors and sponsors!