The RARA HelpLine is emergency relief in the form of financial assistance for Rockbridge Area families who need temporary help with rent, utilities, heating fuel, or gasoline. In some instances RARA provides emergency shelter to transient, needy families, as well as referrals to other help agencies. RARA does not cover assistance for purchase of clothing, prescriptions, medications or phone bills.

Persons or families who are in need of assistance can contact the HelpLine by phone (540-463-6642) to request assistance. HelpLine is open Monday – Thursday from 9:30am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm. Between June 15 and August 15, we only accept new applications in the morning. For “after hours” emergency assistance, contact the Police Department. Please note that it often takes 48 hours to help prevent a utility cut-off.

Families are eligible for assistance up to 200% of the federal poverty level and RARA never gives money directly to a client. Volunteers screen applicants to determine eligibility and ability to pay bills going forward after emergency assistance from HelpLine. RARA also serves as an intake and distribution agency for the EnergyShare program and partners with local churches to provide support screening emergency requests. In 2016, RARA assisted 1,076 households and, as an official EnergyShare partner, RARA distributed $67,050 from the EnergyShare fund.

Food Pantry

RARA’s Food Pantry is located at 350 Spotswood Drive in Lexington, VA (by Stonewall Jackson Hospital). The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday  from 2:30 – 4:30 and Saturday from 10am-12 noon. The MAURY RIVER EXPRESS van also stops at the Pantry at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30. RARA runs a satellite delivery of food to two locations in town on the third Thursday of each month; deliveries are made to Lexington House and  Windemere apartments. Sign-up is available at each location.

The Food Pantry is run using a client-choice system: various canned goods, soups, cereals, pasta, etc. are placed on shelves, and clients choose items appropriate to their family size. Produce and meat are also available. Clients whose health concerns require it may choose items for modified diets such as low sodium and low sugar options. Pantry visits are limited to once per month but RARA staff use discretion as needed to provide non-USDA food to someone who requesting assistance more than once per month or who exceeds the USDA financial eligibility criteria (150% of federal poverty level). In 2016, RARA served 3,396 individuals through the Food Panty.

As a member of Feeding America – the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity with a network of over 200 member food banks – RARA’s volunteers make weekly visits to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) where they pick up USDA food and other items at a reduced price. Food is donated to RARA from a wide variety of sources along with purchases from local grocers. In 2016, RARA distributed over 200 tons of food. We also added additional partner pick-ups from local grocery stores and have started a Nutrition Education Program.

Homelessness Prevention Program

Through a partnership with Project Horizon and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the RARA Housing Coordinator provides advocacy, education, and, occasionally, funds to families who were identified as becoming “imminently homeless.” Please contact for additional information about the program.

As part of the Valley Partnership Local Planning Group, we partner with area agencies to provide a Centralized Intake process for individuals and families facing a housing crisis. Call 540-910-2121 to reach an Intake Counselor. During your initial phone call, an Intake Counselor will talk with you and help you locate all the options available to you, no matter your situation. The Counselor will ask questions that will help to determine your eligibility for services offered by local agencies that might help with your particular case.

Holidays and Inclement Weather Notice

RARA is closed for New Years Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and a couple weeks around Christmas. If we are closed for any other day, we will post signs on our doors and information on our Facebook page.

When there is inclement weather, the HelpLine and Food Pantry will be closed when Rockbridge County Schools are closed. If the school closure lasts more than one day, check the web page or our Facebook page.