Loudoun Hunger Relief and HealthWorks for Northern Virginia are implementing a joint pilot program to fight obesity in low-income children.
The Integrated Pediatric Care program has been funded by a $60,000 grant from Northern Virginia Health Foundation and will help children cared for by HealthWorks at its Leesburg location. Participating families will receive fresh fruit and vegetables each week through a prescription. They also will be offered education and ongoing support promoting healthier eating habits for their children.
“The rate of pediatric obesity in our low-income patient population is roughly double that of the county’s population as a whole,” HealthWorks CEO Carol Jameson stated in announcing the program Thursday. “Nearly 50 percent of our patients under 18 have a clinical diagnosis of overweight or obese.”
Loudoun Hunger Relief has been putting a stronger emphasis on healthy eating through its food bank operations and the new program builds on those efforts.
“We have developed a pilot program which can eventually be scaled up to address the broader issue of obesity among low-income families with limited affordable food choices in Loudoun County,” stated LHR Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery. “We are extremely grateful to have this foundational funding from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation who recognize the possibilities that exist when innovative community partnerships are formed.”
The program is being funded by Northern Virginia Health Foundation’s grant in large part because of the extensive collaboration among area organizations during the year-long planning phase, organizers said. The community-based partnership also includes Loudoun County Health Department, Loudoun Pediatric Obesity Collation, Loudoun Valley Homegrown Markets Cooperative, Real Food for Kids, and A Farm Less Ordinary.
The mission of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation is to improve the health and healthcare of Northern Virginians, with an emphasis on low-income and uninsured residents. In the past decade, the foundation has awarded more than $10 million to organizations across the region.
HealthWorks, with its Loudoun location at 163 Fort Evans Road NE in Leesburg, provides comprehensive primary medical, dental and mental health services to patients regardless of income or whether they have health insurance.
Founded in 1991, Loudoun Hunger Relief is the county’s largest food pantry, serving 11,000 residents annually. LHR distributed 1.2 million pounds of food last year. For more information, go toloudounhunger.org or call 703-777-5911.