First Lady of Virginia visits Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to help address food insecurity in the Commonwealth

Pamela Northam at Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Pamela Northam at Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia’s First Lady and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry were in the Valley today doing their part to address food insecurity through the We Care initiative.

They helped volunteers pack boxes with food at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

"Experts are saying now that we're looking at a 75 percent increase in food insecurity in our children, so we really need to step up our game and make sure we're taking care of everyone," Pamela Northam said.

While Northam said they are working to address food insecurity for families across the Commonwealth, she said it’s especially important to make sure children in the state are not going hungry.

"It's really hard to learn or even concentrate when you're hungry, and it's especially important for developing brains. We know that malnutrition really leads to inability to concentrate, lower reading scores, lower math scores," Northam said.

According to BRAFB, 21 percent of food bank visits in June were made by people needing food assistance for the first time. We Care is working to address that need.

The goal is to distribute 100,000, 20-pound food boxes throughout the state, which would provide families with a five-day food supply.

"They want to make sure they're providing healthy, nutritious food. They're doing a lot to help us help our farmers as well so that they have new markets and that they can provide healthy, nutritious foods," Bettina Ring said.

1.4 million dollars in CARES Act funding, along with contributions from Sentara Healthcare, helped kick start the program. “Other organizations, including Humana, Northern Neck Virginia Insurance, CVS Health/Aetna, the Wawa Foundation and Tito’s Vodka, have since joined the cause, helping to bring total public and private contributions to $2.6 million,” according to a press release from Sentara Healthcare.

“It’s really exciting to see everyone step up. I know here at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, they have more volunteers than they’ve had in the past, so people are doing all they can to help their neighbors out,” Ring said.

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