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Northam directs $7M in CARES Act funding to Virginia food banks

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Feeding America estimates that the number of Virginians experiencing food insecurity will pass $1.1 million this year.

The Commonwealth is stepping up to fill the void, with Gov. Ralph Northam announcing Monday that Virginia will allocate $7 million in CARES Act dollars to food banks to help Virginians who rely on food assistance.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the already serious problem of food insecurity in Virginia and across the country,” Northam said. “This funding will help Virginia food banks and other food assistance programs meet the increased demand for their services and ensure every Virginian has continued access to nutritious food during these challenging times.”

This allocation of CARES Act funding will help the Federation of Virginia Food Banks purchase fresh food and dairy products, filling an expected gap caused by the end of the federal Farmers to Families Food Box program and a severe drop in commodities at the end of the year.

Food banks can also use the money to purchase shelf-stable commodities and address storage, refrigeration, and transportation issues.

“Our seven member food banks have gone the extra mile this year to ensure every Virginian has access to the food they need to thrive,” said Eddie Oliver, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “Our efforts to create a food system that works for all has been made all the more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are so grateful to have the Commonwealth as a committed partner in that mission.”

In July, the Commonwealth committed an initial $1.4 million in CARES Act funding to help launch a new statewide initiative with Sentara Healthcare, Truist, and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks called the “We Care” COVID-19 Virginia Emergency Food Support Plan, providing approximately 100,000 food boxes to Virginia families.

Northam asked the General Assembly to approve an additional $650,000 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding to support food bank services. Northam and the Children’s Cabinet recently released the Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger, a set of goals and strategies to prioritize food security during the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19 and beyond.