For Immediate Release
Director of Corporate Communications
Virginia Hospital Center
Virginia Hospital Center Pediatrics & Outpatient Clinic Awarded $255,000 for Grocery Assistance Program
Arlington, VA: November 23, 2020– Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, is pleased to announce that VHC Pediatrics and the VHC Outpatient Clinic have each received $100,000 in grant money from Arlington County’s LINK program. The funds will provide a monthly $200 grocery store gift card for approximately 83 families at each facility for six months.
The two facilities have also each been awarded $27,500 from the Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) for the purchase of monthly grocery gift cards for approximately 23 households at each facility for six months in alignment with the Arlington LINK grocery gift card project.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity was among the most significant factors preventing individuals in our community from pursuing healthcare,” said Michelle Altman, patient care director for VHC Pediatrics and the Outpatient Clinic. “A program that allows our patients to have consistent access to adequate nutrition goes a long way towards reducing health disparities in our community and alleviating the added stressors that 2020 has presented.”
The LINK program is a partnership between four of Arlington’s health safety-net partners providing healthcare services to uninsured and underserved populations. As part of this Grocery Card pilot program, more than $500,000 will be distributed by the two VHC facilities, the Arlington Free Clinic and the Department of Human Services’ Maternal and Child Health Clinic.
The VHC Pediatric Center has seen a significant increase in the percentage of patients reporting food insecurity, jumping from 29 percent in February 2020 to 40 percent in May 2020. Meanwhile, a 2020 survey of Arlington Free Clinic patients indicated that 29 percent of respondents feared running out of food before receiving money to buy more, an eight percent increase from 2019.
“Grocery cards are a fast and efficient way to get funds into the hands of Arlington’s most vulnerable citizens,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “Arlington County is grateful to have partners like Virginia Hospital Center, the Arlington Free Clinic and the Maternal and Child Health Clinic to serve as trusted community liaisons and oversee the distribution process.”