Partnerships Bring Mobile Food Pantry To Lackey
by Katie Patrick, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank
A newly formed partnership between the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, Williamsburg Health Foundation, and CHP has brought a new [Mobile Food Pantry] truck to the Lackey area of York County, Virginia. This partnership is providing a wide variety of nutritious food, including produce, meat, and other grocery items for up to 100 families. Karen Joyner, CEO of the Foodbank, says, “We have joined with Community Housing Partners and Williamsburg Health Foundation to improve the nutritional content of the food that the residents of Lackey receive on a monthly basis. Together with our partners in this endeavor, we hope to improve the health of this community.”
Lackey is considered a ‘Food Desert,' meaning, as Kyra Cook, Program Officer at Williamsburg Health Foundation, states, “Residents do not have access to healthy food retailers nor do they have access to public transportation.” York County does not have public transportation. Although a grocery store exists a few miles away, many local residents of Lackey are challenged by not having their own vehicles. Mr. Key, lifelong resident of Lackey, tells us that in the 80 plus years that he has lived here, Lackey has never had a grocery store close by, the nearest is eight miles away.
Thanks to the generosity of a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder grant, the Foodbank has been able to purchase a truck that is dedicated to the delivery of food to neighborhoods such as those in Lackey that are in need of a Mobile Food Pantry. Each delivery consists of fresh produce, frozen meats, and canned and dry goods that are delivered directly to the residents.
Delivery is orchestrated by Foodbank staff and assisted by dedicated volunteers that help each resident with their selection of food items. The Foodbank utilizes the Mobile Food Pantry to introduce produce items that may not be familiar to some residents, but offer more nutritional value. Volunteers are briefed at each delivery site and often given suggestions on food preparation to share with those picking up food.
Ms. Sylvia Carter, who lives at the Woods of Yorktown Apartments in Lackey and is also serving as a volunteer, knows the importance of eating for wellness. She shared how this distribution stretches her budget, exclaiming, “The amount of [my] food stamps has been downsized and this helps supplement [my food budget] and to save money in my pocket so that I can make it from the beginning to the end of the month. The meats are the most helpful. Healthy food like produce is important because it’s fresh and I can cook it, boil or bake it, which makes it more nourishing for your body, without the added salt. We’re thankful for the Foodbank coming out today.”
As the distribution comes to a close, volunteers break down the tents and tables, loading them onto the Foodbank’s truck. The Foodbank will return, playing out this scene for months to come, or at least until this neighborhood is no longer considered a food desert and its residents have access to a variety of nutritious food without having to travel miles to obtain it. In the meantime, Kyra Cook states, “The Foundation is hopeful that this new partnership with the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank and Community Housing Partners results in regular access to proteins and fresh produce that will improve the well-being of the people living in the Lackey community.”
Reprinted from Food First with permission from Virginia Peninsula Foodbank