FACES food pantry gets help from Centra grant

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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FACES Food Pantry recently received a $25,000 grant from Centra to support efforts to provide food to address chronic disease among neighbors served.

The Virginia Department of Health reports that the population of the Piedmont Health District has higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke compared to the overall population of Virginia. The 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment outlines needs for greater food security, better nutritional food, as well as for efforts to address chronic disease.

With these needs in mind, FACES is participating in a national Healthy Pantry Initiative that seeks to enhance the nutritional quality of the food it distributes, and to target foods to specific dietary and cultural needs. The Centra grant funds will enable FACES to help neighbors live healthier lifestyles to address medical issues.

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To that end, FACES is adopting a three-point approach. 

FACES will: 

  • provide bags of healthier food for all neighbors with specific medical dietary focus on combating hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.  A local nutrition educator has volunteered to assist with identifying foods that are heart-healthy and diabetes friendly.
  • encourage neighbors to participate in exercise and healthy movement in partnership with community fitness organizations.  FACES is partnering with the Southside YMCA and other organizations to introduce physical movement classes to neighbors, with a goal of encouraging them to take responsibility for using healthy practices to improve their well-being.
  • create and distribute to neighbors a list of local resources as a guide for meeting their health and wellness needs beyond what FACES can provide.  An additional $15,000 grant from the Piedmont Health District will allow FACES to engage a health and wellness consultant, develop and distribute health education materials, host eating for wellness workshops, translate materials into Spanish, and sponsor vaccine clinics for neighbors.

What is FACES Food Pantry? 

FACES Food Pantry was founded in 1981 and is committed to eliminating hunger in our area by providing nutritious food to those who struggle to afford the necessities of life.  FACES seeks to engage the wider community in this work and to foster connections between neighbors served and other agencies.

FACES distributes food every Saturday to families with incomes up to 180% of poverty level. In 2023, FACES served 1,100 households (29.% higher than 2022) with 2,296 individuals (up 37.2% from the prior year). FACES also underwrites a backpack program that provides food to Prince Edward elementary and middle school students who might otherwise go hungry over the weekends away from school. Further, FACES provides food to temporarily homeless individuals referred by STEPS, and emergency food to those who find themselves without funds and without food.