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Foodbanks awarded grants

The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia & the Eastern Shore recently announced a series of grants from Obici Healthcare Foundation, Sentara Healthcare, and Walmart totaling $410,000. The Foodbank will leverage these funds to support health care-related initiatives as outlined in the organization’s Strategic Plan.

“Within the last year, we have been laser-focused on aligning our resources with strategic initiatives that have the ability to move us beyond feeding the line, and closer toward our goal to end the line,” said Ruth Jones Nichols, chief executive officer of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. “We are especially grateful to our partners that share our commitment to improving the nutritional value of distributed food to positively impact health outcomes, which is highly prioritized in our Strategic Plan.”

To increase healthy, nutritious meals in communities with a high prevalence of food insecurity and food deserts, the Foodbank provides the Mobile Pantry Program, helping in the delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein to communities with limited access to healthy food options. The Foodbank will utilize these new grants to expand its service delivery model, placing an even greater emphasis on fresh produce distribution.

Last month, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore expanded on the Mobile Pantry Program with the development of the Community Produce Hub in Western Tidewater. This project is funded in part by a $300,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation. This expansion of the Foodbank’s Mobile Pantry Program will serve Franklin and Southampton County.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with the Foodbank on this three-year grant project,” said Annette Beuchler, president and chief executive officer of the Obici Healthcare Foundation. “The Community Produce Hub aligns well with our mission to improve the health status of people living in our area, as it provides fresh produce to families with limited access to healthy food options, which can prevent many chronic diseases.”

The Western Tidewater Community Produce Hub will provide fresh produce and is expected to launch in spring 2019 with a projected program completion date of spring 2022.

In addition, the Foodbank received a $50,000 grant from The Sentara Foundation — Hampton Roads and Optima Health as well as $60,000 in grant funding from Walmart to develop a Healthy Food Pantry Pilot Program in partnership with Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, a longtime partner agency of the Foodbank.

“Collaborations with organizations such as the Foodbank are integral to the Sentara mission to improve health every day,” said Howard P. Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “Community partnerships result in a positive impact on social determinants of health for our community members. Food insecurity is a particular area of opportunity and Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health are pleased to provide support for local food pantry programs.”

The newly expanded food pantry will transition from the large distribution of shelf-stable, dry good items to more fruits and vegetables that are low in sodium, sugar and trans-fat. The model will also increase distribution of healthy food to individuals struggling with health-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

“In our long-standing relationship with the Foodbank, we have been at the forefront of championing transformational efforts to fight hunger in the community,” said Keith Morris, senior director of community relations for Walmart. “Through the Healthy Food Pantry Program, we are able to take our support a step further to provide healthier food options for families facing food insecurity families in the region.”

The modified Healthy Food Pantry model at Calvary Revival Church will launch in April 2019 and offer additional support services that holistically address hunger and food insecurity.