Food Bank Fills Need For COVID-19 Patients
By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 5/30/20
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has teamed up with three Shenandoah Valley health-care groups to provide food boxes to individuals who were hospitalized or in self-isolation due to COVID-19 and are financially vulnerable during the pandemic.
“Partnering with local health-care organizations provides a perfect opportunity to meet the nutritional needs of COVID-affected patients before they go home to self-isolate,” said Maria Bowman, programs manager at the Food Bank, in a press release. “We hope this food makes their isolation and recovery feel a bit less daunting.”
If a patient being treated for COVID-19 is in need of food, the food bank offers a free box filled with fresh produce and proteins. To make the donation possible, Abena Foreman-Trice, media and community relations manager for BRAFB, said the organization used funds from a grant awarded by Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks.
The federation received $1 million in February 2019 in an effort to improve access to nutritious food through direct-service programs and partnerships across the Commonwealth. Foreman-Trice said the goal of the grant was to support needs stemming from Medicaid expansion and to address social factors affecting the health and well-being of low-income Virginians.
In April, Augusta Health used a screening to determine if an individual needed food in order to distribute food boxes to their COVID-19 patients. The process was called “ Mask and a Meal” and provided food to any patient who had been tested for COVID-19 and was waiting for their results at home.
At Sentara RMH Medical Center, food boxes were distributed to confirmed COVID-19 patients leaving the hospital to self-quarantine and newly tested patients leaving the emergency room who were waiting for results. The hospital then followed up with those patients at home to see if they needed additional food. Patra Reed, regional director of Sentara RMH Medical Center, said in a press release that the program was a great support to those facing food insecurity in the area.
“This initial box of food provides staple food items along with educational information on self- quarantine and isolation,” Reed said. “Many in our community already have feelings of isolation, are without employment at this time, and may feel anxious about using more formal types of aid.” If a patient is in need of food, Foreman- Trice said they could also utilize their nearest food bank partner food pantry for assistance. A food bank can be found by using the locator tool www. brafb.org/find-help.