Richmond Food Bank and Health Equity Organizations receive grants from the city

Six Richmond-area nonprofits received a total of $332,000 from the city’s Health Equity Fund this week to help fill gaps in access to health care, food, jobs and more.

This was the city’s second round of grants from the fund. Her first round grossed $230,000.

The Waymakers Foundation—a culturally sensitive food bank established in 2020 to provide food to immigrant families in need—was awarded a $107,000 grant.

Providing familiar foods is helping road makers reach Hispanic people throughout Richmond and surrounding counties, Executive Director Natasha Lemos said.

“We offer what’s called ‘canasta básica’, which is the staple grains, fresh produce and meat that families are culturally accustomed to,” Lemos told VPM News on Wednesday, after a press conference in the Richmond City Health District Building.

Waymakers Communications Director Jhanaly Perez said the group serves more than 2,000 families in the Richmond area.

“It’s only been two years, and we’re reaching a lot of families who need that help,” Perez said.

Currently, the foundation has only one distribution center, in Chesterfield, which Lemos said is an obstacle for people who don’t have easy access to transportation. But with the city grant, she said they could restart the delivery service for 480 families for one year.

“Now, the road makers can come home,” Lemos said.

Mayor Levar Stoney acknowledged during Wednesday’s press conference that Richmond has racial disparities in health outcomes — infant deaths, overdose deaths, severe COVID-19, and more. He said that “the solution to address the roots of these health disparities lies in cooperation” between the government, public health and community organizations.

“We need strong partners,” said Stoney.

Daily Planet Health Services received $25,000 from the city’s equity fund to help provide health care and COVID-19 vaccines for homeless people. The Opportunity Coalition and Return to Richmond, which provides transitional services for people with substance use disorder returning from prison, received $50,000.

Birth in Color RVA, Healthy Heart Plus, and Urban Baby Beginnings together earned a total of $150,000 to provide direct doula services to Richmond residents. As a group, they will also use the funds to work toward building sufficient capacity to achieve state certification and Medicaid provider status.

The Health Equity Fund was set up by Richmond City Council with $5 million in American Bailout Act dollars. Grants will be distributed to local organizations through 2024 to “address health disparities and racial injustice in our communities by funding innovative community-led projects across our city,” according to the RHHD website.

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