Rob Irvine’s kids loading up his truck with MITRE employees’ donations for the food bank

In the Community: Feeding Those in Need During the Pandemic

When COVID-19 required schools and businesses to close, demand for food donations surged. When a local food bank saw their donation inventory plummet, Rob Irvine and his family stepped in to help.

MITRE employees take our mission of solving problems for a safer world to heart—and to their communities. Our "In the Community" series highlights the many ways our people make a difference in neighborhoods across the country and around the globe.

Select stories feature employees lending their time, talent, and heart to the fight against COVID-19. Rob Irvine’s story shows us how important it is to support local food pantries year-round.


The idea for the COVID-19 food drive came about when we were watching news stories with our kids about food banks running out of food. My kids asked how the food bank we volunteer with was doing.

We support Food for Friends, which works with Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, which has 189,000 students. We also support Food for Others, a local food bank open to anyone. We’ve been supporters for about four years.

When I contacted the director, she told me they ran out of food the first week. I thought we could increase donations by reaching out to my colleagues at MITRE.

Empty Food Banks

Food for Friends usually gives out about 60 meals a week to students. The organization provides meal kits to kids whose primary source of food is school meals. When the schools closed March 13, everyone came to the food bank.

We delivered 85 packages the first week of the COVID-19 food drive with MITRE employees. The director was speechless at the generosity. That drop-off filled the storage area in the school again. But, again, everything was gone within a week.

Stopped in My Tracks

When we dropped off donations at Food for Others, about 100 people were in line. I was struck that they were from all walks of life. I saw people who, six months ago, might not have thought of themselves as ever going to a food bank.

There was a guy who caught my eye—an older gentleman in a suit and tie who looked like he came from work or a job interview—standing in line with a mask on, waiting for food. It stopped me in my tracks.

Seeing the lines, you realize that COVID-19 is affecting everybody—in ways I think nobody considered.

Expanding Our Reach

There’s nothing worse than a hungry child. If we’re able to help by ordering, collecting, and delivering food, that’s nothing. The impact of these organizations is getting food to that child.

To help more children and families, we expanded the food drive to Bedford, Massachusetts, where our other MITRE headquarters is located. Dave Scher and Bob Rains volunteered to collect donations in Bedford and distribute food to local food banks.

Why I Do It

I feel like I’m actually doing something. More important to me is that my kids don’t grow up thinking all about themselves. I want them to realize that service before self is a real thing, and it’s a good thing.

If my kids grow up to be good people and this experience has an effect on them, I’ll be pleased.

by Rob Irvine, as told to Aishia Caryn Freeman

Inclusion and diversity have long been key elements of our culture. MITRE is committed to leading the way to a strong future through community involvement and volunteerism, locally and nationally, and we offer 40 hours of paid time to employees to volunteer during the workday for causes they care about. Learn more about working with us.