Pilot Program on Childhood Obesity to Start in Loudoun

Pilot Program on Childhood Obesity to Start in Loudoun

Northern Virginia Health Foundation awards $60,000 grant to Loudoun Hunger Relief and HealthWorks for Northern Virginia.

“The rate of pediatric obesity in our low-income patient population is roughly double that of [Loudoun] County’s population as a whole,” said Carol Jameson, CEO of HealthWorks for Northern Virginia. “Nearly 50 percent of our patients under 18 have a clinical diagnosis of overweight or obese.”

Help is on the way to reduce these staggering numbers in Loudoun County.

“Loudoun Hunger Relief and HealthWorks for Northern Virginia are thrilled to announce that implementation of their joint program for Integrated Pediatric Care has been funded by a $60,000 grant from Northern Virginia Health Foundation,” said Jameson and Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of Loudoun Hunger Relief, in a statement. “This grant will seed a pilot program targeting overweight and obesity in low-income children cared for by HealthWorks at its Leesburg location. Participating families will receive weekly fresh fruit and vegetables via a prescription, as well as education and ongoing support aimed at developing long-lasting, healthier eating habits for their children. This is a program that will ensure the most vulnerable in our society have access to the healthiest food possible.”

Many families struggling to access and afford healthy food have limited knowledge about good nutrition. The new program brings together Loudoun Hunger Relief with HealthWorks for Northern Virginia and other community partners to provide integrated pediatric primary care and access to healthy food and nutrition education.

Montgomery said the program could eventually be scaled up to address the broader issue of obesity among low-income families with limited affordable food choices. “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,” she said

The program is being funded by Northern Virginia Health Foundation’s grant in large part due to the extensive collaboration among area organizations during the year-long planning phase, as well as in the pilot year. This program is benefitting from a partnership that includes Loudoun Hunger Relief, HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, 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 particular emphasis on those who are low-income, and uninsured. In the last decade, the Foundation has made significant investments in the health care safety net, awarding over $10 million to organizations across the region. In 2015, the foundation began investing in organizations engaged in upstream interventions that tackle social factors affecting health, including Loudoun Hunger Relief.

HealthWorks for Northern Virginia is Loudoun’s nonprofit community health center, providing comprehensive primary medical, dental and mental health services to all persons, of all ages, regardless of income or whether they have health insurance. With two centers located in Leesburg and Herndon, both serving Loudoun residents, HealthWorks provides care for nearly 15,000 patients, nearly all of whom are low income. Over the last year HealthWorks has provided 37,700 health care visits.

Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR) is Loudoun’s leader in food assistance, and has been serving the local community since 1991. Last year, LHR served 11,000 Loudoun residents through more than 73,000 visits and the distribution of 1.2 million pounds of food. Children comprise 40 percent of those served, and another seven percent are senior citizens.