Six years ago, Joshua was diagnosed with ALS — a progressive neurodegenerative disease. At 15, he was one of the youngest people ever to receive this diagnosis.
At first glance, you would never guess he’s anything but healthy. However, if you look closer you can see the braces on his legs and the limp in his step. Joshua is a brilliant mechanic — he is partly self-taught and recently completed a college automotive mechanic class — but because
of his disease, he is not able to work. He survives on a fixed disability income and a small amount of SNAP (food stamp) benefits that do not get him through the month.
His family provides Joshua with a tremendous amount of love and any support that they can, but they struggle to make ends meet themselves. Therefore, for the food and nutrition he needs, Joshua turns to his local food pantry for help. He regularly accompanies his mother to pick up soft foods like oatmeal, soft breads, and enriched noodles that he can eat easily and help make him stronger.
“The food pantry has been absolutely critical to helping me stay as a healthy as I can,” says Joshua. “Honestly, I don’t have enough money to purchase the food I need and neither does my family, so without them I don’t know where I’d be.”
For someone who is struggling with so much, Josh is incredibly positive and encouraging. His mother says he is always motivating his sibling to be the best they can be. Joshua is also extremely grateful for everything he does have. He’s grateful to his family, to members of his community whose donations have enabled him to purchase critical medical supplies, and of course to his local pantry for helping ensure he has enough to eat.
“To everyone who makes the food pantry possible, thank you so much,” Joshua says. “I can’t even express how much it really helps me and my family out. And I mean that sincerely from the bottom of my heart.”
Dear Friend of the Foodbank,
In our cover story, you met Joshua. He receives a small amount of financial assistance from SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, to help him purchase food. As the largest hunger-relief program in the country, SNAP is a vital tool for helping clients to stretch their grocery budgets and put nutritious food on their tables. Through our SNAP Outreach Program, we assist our clients with completing and submitting applications for the program. These efforts are one of the many ways that we work with our clients to make sure they can access not only food, but the types of food they need to be physically healthy.
Another way we are leading the fight to eliminate hunger in our community is by encouraging conversations among leaders and supporters about the ways we can work together to solve food insecurity in our area. On March 5, as an example, we held our Second Annual Hunger Summit on the campus of Old Dominion University. Community experts and Foodbank staff led an impactful day that featured a panel discussion, Understanding the Root Causes of Food Insecurity, and breakout sessions based on our four strategic pillars — Lead, Feed, Strengthen, and Transform. Together, we also honored the great work of our Partner Agencies, volunteers, and corporate partners during the Pillars of Promise Awards Luncheon. These agencies, volunteers, and partners are working every day to support our neighbors struggling with hunger and food insecurity. We appreciate their commitment to hunger-relief work in our community. The Hunger Summit concluded with a hunger simulation. Using real-life scenarios, our guests were able to, through the eyes of those affected in the community, simulate the experience of what it means to be food insecure.
As we are well into spring, we are excited about how our organization is growing and the new opportunities presented each day. Your generosity allowed us to restore our BackPack Program to 3,400 children this year and sustain other critical programs for our community after losing Farm Fresh. Your continued support is making a tremendous difference in the lives of hungry and food insecure community members. Through the words of your advocacy, the actions in your volunteerism, and the generosity of your philanthropy, you join us daily in the fight against hunger and food insecurity. Thank you for your passion and dedication. Together we can solve hunger.
Paul G. Finch
President, Board of Directors
Ruth Jones Nichols, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act
Senator Mark Warner and Congressman A. Donald McEachin (along with others) reintroduced bipartisan legislation in early March to incentivize food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to help eradicate food deserts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 20 million Americans live in food deserts, or areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. The bipartisan Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act sets up a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits to help increase the supply of healthy food in low-income and low-access urban and rural areas.
“Families in Virginia must be able to count on reliable access to healthy and affordable foods no matter where they live.”
“Access to healthy, nutritious food should not be dependent on geography,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am committed to addressing hunger and food insecurity, which is why I am proud to reintroduce the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act. We must do everything we can to eliminate food deserts in Virginia and across the country.”“Families in Virginia must be able to count on reliable access to healthy and affordable foods no matter where they live,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation will increase the availability of dependable, nutritious food for more than one million Virginians, and support grocery markets and non-profits in their efforts to serve the communities that need them the most.” Senator Warner and Congressman McEachin first co-introduced the legislation in 2017. They collaborated with our Foodbank to educate the community about the benefits of the proposed legislation. Share your thoughts with them by contacting the offices of Senator Warner at (757) 441-3079 or Congressman McEachin at (757) 942-6050.
Extending Our Reach
The Foodbank is pleased to announce that we have received a $300,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation for the Western Tidewater region. These funds will increase access to healthy foods in and around the City of Franklin and Southampton County through the implementation of infrastructure improvements to the facilities of our existing Partner Agencies and the development of a “Community Produce Hub” in the City of Franklin. Residents of both the City of Franklin and Southampton County often struggle to access healthy, fresh, and affordable foods due to the rural nature of the area and lack of access to reliable and affordable transportation. The Hub will allow the Foodbank to sustain its current programs — such as the BackPack Program, Healthy Mobile Pantry, and the GetFresh Produce Initiative — while minimizing transportation costs for the Foodbank and Partner Agencies sourcing food through the Norfolk location of the Foodbank.
Pillars of Promise Award Winners
Presented at the 2nd Hunger Summit Held on March 5, 2019
LEAD – Cheryl Speelman
FEED – Tyson Foods
STRENGTHEN – Leslie Urie
TRANSFORM – Dr. Mack Bonner
Strike Out Hunger Challenge
April 14, 2019 — September 2, 2019
Perdue Farms and the Delmarva Shorebirds baseball team have launched their season-long Strike Out Hunger Challenge at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on the Eastern Shore. The Shorebirds have designated the season’s Sunday home games as “Strike Out Hunger Sundays.” Fans who bring two non-perishable food items to the stadium will receive a $3 upper reserved ticket to the game.
Walmart — Fight Hunger, Spark Change
April 22, 2019 — May 20, 2019
Support the Foodbank by purchasing specially marked grocery items at Walmart Stores or donating at the register during checkout.
May 20, 2019 — June 7, 2019
Does your company want to help hungry neighbors put meals on their tables? Do your fellow employees have the drive to make the world a better place? Do they find friendly competition fun? Register your organization to participate as a Hunger Hero! For more information on how to register or for the competition rules, go to foodbankonline.org.