Feeding America®, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, recently announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will help men and women who have served this country. The new Veterans Pantry Pilot (VPP) program will provide food assistance to veterans onsite at VA Medical Centers. Locally, the Lowcountry Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is partnering with Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center to open the Veterans Pantry Pilot site in Charleston.
Locally, 23% percent of the households supported by the Lowcountry Food Bank have a member who is a veteran or has served in the U.S. military.
“We are honored to be able to provide this pantry for the brave men and women of the military. The harsh reality is that many veterans now face hunger. In fact, one in five households that comes to us for help has a member who served our country,” said Pat Walker, President and CEO of the Lowcountry Food Bank. “Military families confront difficult challenges daily and it is our hope that through the Veteran Pantry Pilot, that putting food on the table is not one of them.”
The Feeding America network of 200 food banks provides food assistance to every county in the U.S. The Lowcountry Food Bank serves 10 counties and provides food assistance to more than 200,000 people in the area. Through VPP, the Lowcountry Food bank will partner with the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center to coordinate mobile pantry distributions.
To build capacity and ensure success of the VPP program, Feeding America and the VA host joint meetings with all VPP participants to support local partnerships and gather key learnings. Additionally, individualized technical assistance has been provided for VPP sites.
Currently, ten VPP sites are active including the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center, with additional pantries going live by the end of the year.