FeedVA to combat childhood hunger, strengthen local food systems

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Photo Credit: niroworld

As the Commonwealth marks the third annual Feed Virginia Day of Action, Gov. Ralph Northam and his administration’s Children’s Cabinet announced Friday the launch of FeedVA.org, an interactive tool to connect partners, share resources, and accelerate efforts to help end childhood hunger in Virginia and strengthen local food systems.

The FeedVA website includes a comprehensive collection of statewide and localized data and resources related to food security, school nutrition, health outcomes, local food access, and more.

“In order for every Virginian, especially every child, to have the same shot at a healthy, safe, and successful life, we must ensure equitable access to the nutritious, affordable, and locally-sourced foods that will help them grow and thrive,” said Northam. “The FeedVA website will be a valuable tool and help guide our efforts as we work together to strengthen Virginia’s food system and address the needs of families facing food insecurity across the Commonwealth.”

The launch of FeedVA comes at a time when many Virginians are having difficulty accessing healthy and affordable food for their families. According to the Map the Meal Gap report published by Feeding America, 863,390 Virginians experienced food insecurity in 2017, including 247,490 children. One in eight Virginia children may not know where their next meal will come from and nearly 500,000 children in the Commonwealth do not have access to fresh or healthy food.

“The relationship between a child’s nutrition, health, and learning is undeniably strong,” said First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam. “FeedVA is an important step to help us ensure that every child in Virginia has the healthy foods they need for a strong start.”

Last year, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Eleven, reestablishing the Children’s Cabinet. One of the four key priority areas of the Children’s Cabinet is nutrition and food security. The Children’s Cabinet is supported by stakeholder working groups which include experts from state agencies, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations. Additional information about the Children’s Cabinet is available here.

“Every sector has a role to play to improve food access including agriculture, education, health, and a variety of others,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “With the new FeedVA tool, we can see exactly where our children’s food insecurities are the highest and find ways to work together to eliminate childhood hunger in Virginia.”

“From obesity to diabetes prevalence, FeedVA is our gateway to see which communities are most at-risk,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “There’s real power in utilizing the mapping tools on FeedVA to assist our efforts to reach Virginians most in need.”

“Food security is strongly linked to a child’s academic success,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Improving food access supports our efforts to improve educational outcomes, and FeedVA highlights the role that school meal programs like breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals play to end childhood hunger.”

FeedVA expands on the work of the Virginia Food Access Network (VFAN), a product of the previous Commonwealth’s Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide chaired by former First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and the College of William and Mary’s Center for Geospatial Analysis will provide leadership and technical expertise for the maintenance and promotion of the website.

“FeedVA provides tools that help us work together to set Virginia’s children up for success and collectively have a greater impact on children’s nutrition and overall health,” said Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Executive Director Marty Kilgore.

To learn more about FeedVA, visit FeedVA.org and follow #FeedVA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

         
 

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