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Published on July 20, 2020

For Immediate Release

Maryanne Boster
Director of Corporate Communications
Virginia Hospital Center
tel: 703.558.6581

Program Supported by $7,500 Grant from Mid Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition

Arlington, VA: July 20, 2020 – An OB/GYN medical resident completing a rotation at the Outpatient Clinic of Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has launched the Moms Produce Program to provide fresh produce to the underserved maternity patients treated at the Clinic.

Dr. Melissa Duncanson and her fiancé pooled the stimulus checks they received from the Federal government in May to launch a program supporting the nutritional needs of the expectant mothers at the VHC Outpatient Clinic, which provides healthcare services to low-income patients with or without insurance. Dr. Duncanson partnered with Michelle Altman, Patient Care Director, to coordinate logistics and identify the most effective way to provide fresh produce to patients and their families.

“Working in the medical field, we saw how the COVID pandemic was impacting our patients, especially those who were already working with a limited income,” Dr. Duncanson said. “We wanted to feel useful and finding a way to relieve some of that stress for these mothers and provide their families with access to nutritious foods seemed like the perfect way to help.”

The first food delivery was made to the clinic on May 11 and the program continued to provide 25 bags of produce a week for the following six weeks. Each bag, provided through the Fresh Farm Food Hub, includes a week’s worth of fresh produce for a family of four.

“Healthy foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables can be especially challenging for low-income families to find and afford which can lead to increased health disparities and higher occurrences of diabetes and obesity in this population,” said Altman. “This program helps to eliminate that access barrier by providing healthy meals to families in need.”  

Dr. Duncanson’s fundraising efforts have raised more than $20,000 to date. With the addition of a $7,500 grant from the Mid Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition (MAFRAC) the Moms Produce Program has now doubled in size, distributing 50 bags of produce each week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit vulnerable populations like those served by the VHC Outpatient Clinic especially hard,” said Tom McDougall, MAFRAC founder. “The Moms Produce program speaks to the heart of what we are working to do at MAFRAC ­- provide equitable food access to the most vulnerable in our communities while stabilizing food production and supply.”

 The Moms Produce Program will continue to operate through the VHC Outpatient Clinic as long as funds remain available.