Hunger in the Washington metro area might not be what you expect: 22% of the neighbors we serve have diabetes in their family, often linked to obesity. And 49% have high blood pressure, also caused by factors like being overweight and consuming excessive salt. We’ve all seen kids on the metro eating chips on their way to school; that’s because 70% of those we serve report purchasing “inexpensive, unhealthy” food as the primary way they cope with not have consistent access to nutritious food. Not only are our clients dealing with diet related illnesses and making ends meet with unhealthy food, but they are relying on food pantries more often to make ends meet.
So we decided to do something about it: Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) has an initiative called Partners for Wellness. By recognizing our food assistance partners—the non-profits who receive food from the CAFB and distribute it in neighborhoods across DC, Maryland and Virginia—who are committed to distributing healthy food and pairing it with nutrition resources for their clients, we will see a positive impact in the community.
The initiative builds on the work of our Food Resources team, who source all of the CAFB’s food from farmers, retailers, manufacturers, and other donors. They developed a system to track the nutritional value of our food by looking at how much salt, sugar, and fiber is in the fruits, vegetables, and groceries we distribute. This effort, led by our staff dietitian, Renee Kee, and managed by our Nutrition Education Coordinator, Katherine Donnelly, in collaboration with our food assistance partners, doctors, and public health experts, allows us to track the percentage of nutrient rich foods that we offer our partners. Through the Partners for Wellness program, our partners are able to see the nutritional value of the food they access through us via nutrition reports and on our online menu. Recipe cards and produces guides are also available to our partners.
Those that are interested in participating in Partners for Wellness can find an information packet and application here. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on the initiative.