Over the last 6 months, the Federation and our 7-member food banks have collaborated with partner agencies, neighbors, healthcare leaders, and community-based organizations to develop a statewide health equity plan. This unprecedented project serves as a shared commitment to ensuring that approaches to food and nutrition security in the Commonwealth are integrated, comprehensive, equitable, neighbor-centered, and contribute to improved health outcomes.
People experiencing food insecurity are more likely to develop chronic, diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease, contributing toward worsened health disparities. To effectively address these issues, multisector approaches are needed to ensure that everyone has access to culturally relevant healthy food, quality unbiased health care, and essential resources that improve overall health and well-being.
Implementation of the plan will occur over the next three years and will involve deepening our connection with the healthcare system, improving the nutritional quality and cultural relevance of foods sourced and distributed, and breaking down silos through capacity building and improved data systems. We believe that all Virginians have a right to achieve their full health potential and that, together, we can achieve truly transformational growth.
Our Conceptual Framework
Food access is a critical contributor to health. Unfortunately, many people suffer long-term health consequences because they were born into communities that lack access to affordable, nutritious food. Diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease are directly tied to food insecurity, leading to significant health disparities among socially and economically disadvantaged communities.
By the time a neighbor in need has connected with the charitable food system, they have likely faced spending trade-offs, forced to choose between paying for rent or medication and nutritious food. These impossible choices only exacerbate health consequences and perpetuate the vicious cycles of food insecurity and chronic disease.
Virginia’s food banks are working together in unprecedented ways to deliver equitable solutions throughout the Commonwealth. We are also partnering with health care and community-based organizations to connect our neighbors with the resources they need before this cycle begins.
Together, our food banks and partners are working to make the ‘healthy choice’ the ‘easy choice’ by:
- investing in our partner agency networks so they can distribute more nutritious food and fresh produce than ever before
- ensuring neighbors have access to healthy recipes and nutrition education resources throughout our pantry network
- expanding our service delivery models to make the pantry experience more accessible and dignified
- screening and intervening for food security in the health care and community settings
Health Equity Through Collaboration
Our in-person Virginia Nutrition Security and Health Summit took place in Richmond, Virginia April 19–20, 2022. Video and presentations from the conference will be posted soon. Stay tuned!
Contact us if you’re interested in learning about partnership opportunities!
We know multi-sector approaches are needed to effectively address health equity in Virginia. For more information about partnering with Virginia’s food bank and network partners, please contact Meaghan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Nutrition Security Summit
Our 2-hour event featured remarks from Governor Northam, public health stakeholders, government entities, and other partners that recognize nutrition security as a critical social determinant of health. We also provided an update on Virginia’s Roadmap to End Hunger. We have posted a recap of the event, with video and PDF resources for download.