From Inside Business By Trevor Metcalfe
Hampton Roads program aimed at fighting food insecurity has won a $10,000 grant from a national insurance provider.
Violence Intervention & Prevention won the UnitedHealthcare Community Care Award after presenting the idea for the six-week program during a Feb. 26 pitch event in Norfolk. The group, along with four other finalists, presented to three judges and UnitedHealthcare representatives at Old Dominion University’s Strome Entrepreneurial Center.
The winning group intends to take on challenges related to food deserts in Hampton Roads — low-income areas that are more than a mile from a major grocery store or farmer’s market. Every major city in Hampton Roads has at least one such location, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Presenter Ashley Nelson pulled up a map of one spot in Norfolk, then compared it to a map of all the fast food locations in the area. The map filled up with dots. That’s where children were getting many of their meals, she said.
“Their typical first choice for nutrition isn’t really a balanced meal,” Nelson said.
During the program, young people will learn how to shop for groceries, create a food budget and prepare simple recipes.
Violence Intervention & Prevention CEO Cameron Bertrand said participants also would be connected to other community organizations that could help in their lives and participate in a community service project.
The group also has worked to help young people impacted by gun violence. As a gunshot survivor himself, Bertrand said, he knows “firsthand how important the programs that we run with our at-risk youth in different communities are.”
Another finalist, Tidewater Arts Outreach, brings local artists — anyone from dancers to musicians to drum circles — to nursing homes, hospitals and women’s shelters.
“We bring arts outreach programs to people in isolating circumstances,” said presenter Kate Powell.
The group produced 180 programs for around 4,000 people in 2019. Most of the programs have a participatory aspect, said Executive Director Reese Beeler. Recent hits with audiences have included painting and memoir-writing.
The ARDX Foundation was looking to secure funding for its Healthcare Academy — hourlong programs for kindergarten through eighth grade on mental health topics like feeling sad, bullying and sexual abuse. Program Manager Diyan Ward said the program uses puppet shows and educational videos to teach the students.
“They absolutely love it,” Ward said.
Employees from the YMCA on Granby presented on the organization’s Traveling Y outreach program.
Presenter Chasity Tucker said the program allows YMCA instructors to travel to schools, churches and other locations to lead fitness classes for nearby residents. Tucker said the grant funding would be used to pay to train additional instructors.
The final presenter, NewMan Fitness, wants to bring “pop-in” fitness classes out into the community. Those classes would help promote healthy lifestyles and combat childhood obesity, said founder Tanecia Newman.
“Our focus and our concept with the ‘pop-in’ fitness class is supervised fitness everywhere it can be provided,” Newman said.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, email@example.com
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