Health and Nutrition leaders throughout Northern Virginia highlight the issue of food insecurity

Virginia

"Like the rest of my colleagues, we've all seen a significant increase in need. I think a lot of the traditional ways that we were providing food, and getting food out into the community weren't really viable"

CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia held an “Innovation Breakfast Series” for health and nutrition leaders to explore new solutions in emergency food access. Officials said Northern Virginia has way too many food deserts.

Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director, Loudoun Hunger Relief said, “Like the rest of my colleagues, we’ve all seen a significant increase in need. I think a lot of the traditional ways that we were providing food, and getting food out into the community weren’t really viable.”

Montgomery said she had to quickly think of ways to get volumes of food into the community.
She believes access to healthy and nutritious foods is important, which led Loudoun Hunger Relief to create an online appointment system.

“We’re also now taking our food into neighborhoods and into communities where we know that there is a need, and we’re not making people make appointments were showing up a designated time,” said Montgomery.

Other challenges to food access include systemic racism in the food distribution system.
Project Manager for One Fairfax Office, Dawn Hyman said this is a deeply rooted issue.

Dawn Hyman, Project Manager for One Fairfax Office said, “While our food system continues to work for many, barriers and inequities still exist for many others through socially, economically, and particularly in our marginalized communities of color.”

According to Hyman, Fairfax County is addressing this issue by coming up with policies to promote equity and to reexamine the food system through a racial and social lens.

“Addressing systemic racism in our food system is a journey that involves a shift and a mindset so this work is ongoing and continuous,” said Hyman.

Leaders said they will continue to build and sustain food access well beyond the pandemic.

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