With Gov. Ralph Northam in attendance, Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health, in partnership with Truist, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, continued their new statewide initiative Wednesday, August 5 to bolster Virginia’s emergency food support system. Spearheaded by Sentara and dubbed the “We Care” COVID-19 Virginia Emergency Food Support Plan, the initiative, which is currently underway at food banks across the state, will provide free and accessible meals and nourishment to families during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The “We Care” initiative’s model to meet increased food insecurity centers around a 20-pound box filled with a five-day food supply that can be easily assembled to provide safe, low-touch distribution at existing locations managed by the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. Wednesday’s event, held at Feed More in Richmond, Virginia, marked the second of dozens of volunteer pack out events at food banks across the state and culminated in the production of 624 boxes. In total, the “We Care” initiative will support the distribution of roughly 100,000 boxes.
After greeting volunteers and leadership from Sentara, Truist, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks and Feed More, Gov. Northam praised the initiative as an exemplary model of how the public, nonprofit, and private sectors can partner to meet essential community needs.
The Commonwealth’s commitment of $1.4 million from CARES Act funds and the start-up contributions of $500,000 each from Sentara Healthcare and Truist provided the first step to establishing the program, and 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.
”People are hurting right now, and the Commonwealth intends to be part of the solution to make sure people have access to the food they need. In America, we take care of each other in tough times, and I’m grateful to the community partners who are stepping up,” said Governor Ralph S. Northam.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to call greater attention to the broader social determinants of health that allow our communities to flourish — food security chief among them.
“We are honored to partner with the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, Truist, and the Commonwealth as we build on our legacy of improving health in the communities we serve,” says Dennis Matheis, President of Sentara Health Plans, and Executive Vice President of Sentara Healthcare. “Sentara Health Plans proudly serves nearly 600,000 Medicaid members in Virginia. By addressing access to nutritious food, we’re investing in solutions to improve health and wellness in underserved communities and across the Commonwealth.”
“We are pleased to step up and support the We Care program in partnership with this statewide initiative to address food insecurity,” said Doug Roth, Central Virginia Market President for Truist. “We’re in this together, and we will continue to meet the needs of Virginians.”
Virginia’s food banks have responded to an unprecedented increase in demand with urgency, but with Feeding America currently projecting that 450,000 more Virginians will become food insecure this year, passing 1.2 million in total, the continuing needs of Virginians threatens to outpace their capacity to meet those needs.
“We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from Sentara, Truist, the Commonwealth and others through the We Care initiative and how it allows us to be there for our neighbors,” said Douglas Pick, President and CEO of Feed More. “This is truly an inspiring example of how the public, nonprofit and private sectors can come together to serve Virginia during our time of greatest need.”
About Sentara • www.sentara.com/news
Sentara Healthcare celebrates 130 years in pursuit of its mission – “we improve health every day.” Named to IBM Watson Health’s 2018 “Top 15 Health Systems,” Sentara is an integrated, not-for-profit system of 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, including a Level I trauma center, the nationally-ranked Sentara Heart Hospital, two orthopedic hospitals, accredited Sentara Cancer Network and the Sentara Neurosciences Institute. The Sentara family also includes four medical groups, Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and ground medical transport, senior care, home care and hospice, nursing rehabilitation centers, ambulatory outpatient campuses, advanced imaging and diagnostic centers, a clinically integrated network, the Sentara College of Health Sciences and the Optima Health Plan and Virginia Premier Health Plan serving 858,000 members in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. With nearly 30,000 employees and ranked one of Forbes “America’s Best Employers” in 2018, Sentara is strategically focused on clinical quality and safety, innovation and creating an extraordinary health care experience for our patients and members.
Truist Financial Corporation is a purpose-driven financial services company committed to inspire and build better lives and communities. With 275 years of combined BB&T and SunTrust history, Truist serves approximately 10 million households with leading market share in many high-growth markets in the country. The company offers a wide range of services including retail, small business and commercial banking; asset management; capital markets; commercial real estate; corporate and institutional banking; insurance; mortgage; payments; specialized lending and wealth management. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Truist is the sixth-largest commercial bank in the U.S. with total assets of $473 billion as of December 31, 2019. Truist Bank, Member FDIC. Learn more at Truist.com.
About the Federation of Virginia Food Banks
The Federation of Virginia Food Banks is the Commonwealth’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing Virginia’s seven Feeding America food banks and 1,500 partner agencies including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. In SFY 2019, the Federation and its member foodbanks were able to acquire and distribute 120 million pounds of food and grocery items. Visit the Federation on the web at www.vafoodbanks.org