McEachin hosts Richmond event focused on food deserts

Donald McEachin
Donald McEachin

Congressman A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04) visited The Market at 25th in Richmond this week to bring attention to the critical importance of addressing food insecurity and food deserts.

He was joined by Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, who visited Richmond as part of a coast-to-coast journey this summer to shine a light on the continuing national hunger crisis and to advocate for long-term, public policy solutions to food insecurity.

Hunger, food insecurity, and food deserts are pressing issues in Virginia and throughout the nation. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 35.2 million people lived in food-insecure households in 2019. These issues also disproportionately affect low-income and rural communities, as well as communities of color.

“Food insecurity and a lack of access to healthy food options is a reality for too many in the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and loss of stable employment for so many has only exacerbated these issues,” McEachin said. “I want to thank all of our other special guests for their incredible work combatting food insecurity and hunger, both locally and across the nation. I am proud to have helped introduce the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act this Congress to supplement these efforts on the federal level. My legislation aims to incentivize food providers to serve areas struggling with access to healthy food options. These complex issues require public policy solutions across all levels of government. Together, I know we can continue taking the necessary steps to eradicate hunger and food insecurity in the Commonwealth and throughout the nation.”

Even with the pandemic easing, hunger still ravages virtually every rural and suburban town and urban neighborhood in the nation – including throughout Virginia – which is why I am traveling across the country to meet with those working on the front lines of hunger and resilient families facing food hardship from coast-to-coast,” Berg said. “My goal is to energize the work to enact the public policies needed to end U.S. hunger once and for all.”

Rep. McEachin was also joined by Del. Delores McQuinn (D-70), Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-9), City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, and Doug Pick, CEO of Feed More.

“I have dedicated my time and effort to ensuring that every Virginian has access to affordable and healthy food options. I have taken on the motto ‘knocking down hunger’s door’ and that’s what I’ve done,”  McQuinn said. “That is why I continue to sponsor, in collaboration with my Senate partner, Sen. Jennifer McClelland, the Virginia Food Access Investment Program and Fund, which created the Virginia Food Access Investment Program to help look at the construction, the rehabilitation, and the equipment upgrades for the expansion of grocery stores. As we look toward establishing this program and defining it as a way to knock down hunger’s door, we can do it. It is a desire, a will, and a determination on all of our behalf to move toward a hunger-free America once and for all.”

“It is important to understand that food insecurity and food deserts are part of a broader, holistic problem facing our communities, because we recognize the interconnectedness and intersectionality of so many issues,” McClellan said. “We are in one of the richest countries in the world, and we are in a state where agriculture is our number one business, yet we still have children and adults that go hungry. This is not a problem that will be solved by the federal government, the state government, the local government, the nonprofit sector, or the business sector alone. We must work together.”

“Achieving a hunger-free America means addressing several components. Yes, It’s about making sure that you have quality, affordable, produce. Yes, it’s about the impact on physical health and well-being but also economic health and well-being, as well as creating job opportunities for residents in the community,” Newbille said. “We’re not there yet, clearly. We are one of the richest nations in the world, and we should not have anyone that is going without. The Market is a model in the community of responsiveness to those issues. This is a model that can be looked at and replicated throughout sections of our country as we begin to further address this issue.”

“We so appreciate the tireless efforts of Congressman McEachin and the outstanding elected officials that joined us today, as well as the decades of work that Joel Berg has dedicated to this cause,” said Feed More CEO Doug Pick. “Within six weeks last spring, we went from 161,000 food insecure individuals to 242,000 in our service area. It truly exposed to all citizens what so many of their neighbors are going through. We are in total agreement that it will take the combined efforts of local, state and federal governments, substantive nonprofits such as Feed More, and corporate partners, as well as philanthropic individuals such as Steve Markel, to truly address and eliminate food insecurity in this country. We can do this.”

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press