NORFOLK — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore announced they received a series of grants from Obici Healthcare Foundation, Sentara Healthcare and Walmart — totaling $410,000.
The foodbank will leverage the money to support health care-related initiatives as outlined in the organization’s strategic plan, officials said in a news release.
“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, the foodbank’s CEO. “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.”
The foodbank plans to use $300,000 from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to expand its mobile pantry program with the development of the Community Produce Hub in Western Tidewater, officials said.
This expansion of the mobile pantry program will serve Franklin and Southampton County.
In addition to the funds from Obici, the foodbank received a $50,000 grant from Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health as part of the organizations’ $1 million donation made to the Federation of Virginia Foodbanks earlier this year, as well as $60,000 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 CEO 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, officials said.
They also said the model will increase distribution of healthy food to people struggling with health-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
The modified Healthy Food Pantry model at Calvary Revival Church will launch this month and offer additional support services that holistically address hunger and food insecurity.