The Federation of Virginia Food Bank and our seven-member food banks are committed to addressing the linkages between health and food insecurity throughout the Commonwealth. Thanks to a major 2019 grant from Sentara and Optima Health, we are working to improve access to nutritious foods by building the capacity of our local agency partners and forging new partnerships with healthcare providers. This signature initiative will implement food security screenings, referral systems, and new distribution models for patients facing food insecurity.
Recent research has affirmed the critical roles of nutrition and healthy food access in health outcomes. Low-income households and individuals living in food deserts are at greater risk for a variety of diet-related diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.
The American Diabetes Association reports that a Diabetes Care study from 2018 demonstrates an association between Food Insecurity and higher HbA1C (i.e., glucose levels), which puts individuals at greater risk of developing complications related to diabetes. Additionally, according to the American Heart Association, children who are food insecure experience an increased risk for high blood pressure. Creating effective interventions in communities where food insecurity rates are higher than average is important to positively influencing health outcomes.