SNAP benefits are increasing. How can we make the most of them?

October 20, 2021 -

One in eight of all people in the US receives food access assistance each month through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program, but for decades, SNAP participants have struggled to afford the ingredients they need to eat healthy or even to have enough to eat toward the end of the month. Now, after a long-overdue evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, things are about to get a little easier: this month, SNAP participants will see a roughly 25% increase in their monthly benefits, a change that may reduce hunger and improve nutrition and overall health outcomes. 

Since 1975, SNAP benefit levels have been determined by what the USDA calls the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which estimates how much it costs for a person to purchase all the food they need to eat a healthy diet. These guidelines were last revised in 2006; for the past 15 years, SNAP benefits have averaged out to only $1.80 per meal per person. Since a typical healthy meal costs a lot more than $1.80, at least 75% of households use up their current SNAP benefits in the first half of the month. The guidelines were also based on some problematic assumptions: 

  • The TFP didn’t take into account the difference in food prices from one region to another;
  • It based costs for a family benefit on a family with children under 12, not larger and hungrier teenagers;  
  • It assumed SNAP participants would be able to take time-saving measures like soaking dried beans instead of buying more convenient canned beans, which is often impossible for busy working families. 

More than 90% of SNAP recipients live below the poverty level across the US, and Black and Brown people are more likely than White people to experience food insecurity. Closing the gap between what SNAP offers and what people need to eat healthy meals addresses hunger, but it’s also a step toward racial and economic justice. Chronic food insecurity is a barrier to overall health and thriving that has persisted in Black, Brown, and low-income communities for generations. It can also contribute to a wide range of other problems, like behavioral issues and academic struggles for kids, physical and mental health struggles, and greater risk of hospital admission. Giving SNAP participants the resources they need to eat healthy meals all month long can help build a foundation for health and opportunity in other areas of SNAP participants’ lives. 

Now that benefits are increasing, how can we be sure people who are food insecure in Richmond and Henrico are able to make the most of the program? Here are a few ways to get involved: 

 

Apply for SNAP, even if you aren’t sure you qualify.  

Virginia ranks 43 out of 50 states when it comes to SNAP participation—only 72% of eligible people participate. The process of applying for SNAP can be overwhelming, and before the increase it may have felt like the benefits weren’t worth the paperwork. Now that benefits are increasing, anyone who thinks they may be eligible to participate in SNAP should consider applying: 

  • Visit the CommonHelp website to fill out a SNAP application online, or call (833) 5CALLVA for assistance from a CommonHelp advisor. 
  • Richmond and Henrico Public Schools families can apply for SNAP with support from their Communities in Schools Liaison. Check the CIS website to find the liaison for your school, or call 804-358-1CIS (1247). 
  • Residents of public housing communities in Richmond or the Southwood apartment community can connect with Community Health Workers at RHHD’s Resource Center sites for support in applying for SNAP benefits.  


If you are a SNAP participant, shop at a Virginia Fresh Match store or farmers market. 

The Virginia Fresh Match program works with participating grocery stores and farmers' markets to double the amount of produce SNAP participants can buy at no additional cost. Some local vendors include the Market @ 25th, Birdhouse Farmers Market, On the Square Farmers Market, and Dorey Park Farmers Market. For a complete list, check out the Virginia Fresh Match website. 

 

If you’re not a SNAP participant, shop at VA Fresh Match stores and markets (and encourage your favorite store to participate!). 

The Virginia Fresh Match program works with participating grocery stores and farmers markets to double the amount of produce SNAP participants can buy at no additional cost. By shopping at Virginia Fresh Match stores and markets, you’re supporting businesses that make it easier for SNAP participants to eat affordable, healthy meals. If your favorite grocery store or market doesn’t participate, contact them and ask them to become a Virginia Fresh Match vendor, or reach out to Virginia Fresh Match and get involved in their outreach work. 

 

City Council and State Representatives can help extend Virginia Fresh Match. 

The Virginia Fresh Match program makes it easier for SNAP participants to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables they need to cook healthy meals, but the program won’t necessarily last forever. Virginia Fresh Match is funded through a USDA grant currently, but investments by state and local government could ensure the program will continue beyond the grant period. Encourage your City Councilperson or State Representative to explore continuing the Fresh Match after federal funding expires.

 

Now, after a long-overdue evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, things are about to get a little easier: this month, SNAP participants will see a roughly 25% increase in their monthly benefits, a change that may reduce hunger and improve nutrition and overall health outcomes.

 

MASS COVID-19 VACCINATION SITE RETURNS TO RICHMOND RACEWAY

October 7, 2021- The Virginia Department of Health is set to open a Community Vaccination Center (CVC) at the Richmond Raceway starting on Tuesday, October 12th. This CVC will offer COVID-19 vaccines to the greater Richmond community. The CVC will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 am-7:30 pm. Individuals who qualify for a COVID-19 vaccination initial series or booster can schedule an appointment at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877 VAX-IN-VA. Walk-ins are also welcomed. All three COVID-19 vaccine types and Pfizer booster vaccines will be available.

“The CVC will supplement doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and local health districts to create an even more robust network of COVID-19 vaccine providers,” explains Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager for RHHD. “The weekend and evening hours make it even more convenient for busy families.”

“The Raceway has proven to be an incredibly effective and convenient location for individuals to get their COVID-19 vaccines,” explains Rob Rowley, Henrico County’s Chief of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety. “About 160,000 doses have been given at the raceway previously… we are proud to once again have a bustling vaccination hub for Henrico County and our surrounding communities.”

“Part of the motivation in setting up CVCs is staying prepared for an upcoming eligible 5-11-year-old population, as well as an increasing demand for boosters,” says Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator. “We are building vaccine coverage across the whole state.”

These and other COVID-19 vaccination opportunities can be found by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA.

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RHHD TO BEGIN ADMINISTERING PFIZER COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOTS

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021-  CDC and FDA recently announced that some individuals who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now qualify for booster shots based on their age, medical condition, or employment or residential setting. Following these new guidelines, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will open booster appointments starting today. Qualified individuals can make an appointment anytime after six months following the date of their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

“We welcome individuals seeking boosters to make an appointment at one of our clinics,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor at RHHD. “We will also continue to ensure there are more than enough opportunities for individuals who haven’t received their first series to walk up to all our clinics… individuals who are not yet vaccinated are very vulnerable to severe COVID-19 outcomes.” 

Booster-eligible individuals include those who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Individuals 65 years or older 
  • Individuals 18 years or older living in a long-term care setting
  • Individuals aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 
  • Individuals aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 based on their individual benefits and risks
  • Individuals aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting based on their individual benefits and risks

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. If a person has questions about whether or not a booster is right for them based on their individual circumstances, they should consult their healthcare provider. 

RHHD offers boosters by appointment only, but other providers such as pharmacies may take walk-ins. Individuals seeking boosters who walk up to an RHHD event without an appointment will be scheduled for an appointment, but same day appointments are not guaranteed. RHHD requests individuals getting a booster shot bring their vaccination card; no other documentation to prove eligibility will be required. 

To find a booster shot, visit vax.rchd.com or call 804-205-3501.

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

 

RCHD Website  |  HCHD Website  |   RCHD Facebook  |  HCHD Facebook  |  RCHD Instagram  |  RCHD Twitter  

 

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SIGNIFICANT RACIAL DISPARITY IN COVID-19 VACCINATIONS EXISTS AMONG RICHMOND CHILDREN AND TEENS

September 16, 2021- Black Richmond kids and teens ages 12 and older are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at much lower rates than their White and Latino counterparts. RHHD estimates that White kids and teenagers are vaccinated at a rate two to three times higher than that of Black kids and teenagers. “We anticipate factors such as lack of access to resources that allow parents to get their kids vaccinated and distrust of healthcare and governmental systems play a role,” explains Jackie Lawrence, Director of Health Equity at RHHD. “Low vaccination rates are one of many ways that racism in the medical community has a long standing impact on how folks access lifesaving healthcare services.”

“While children tend to recover well from COVID-19, the potential to spread it to more vulnerable individuals in their family is high,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director at RHHD. “This disparity is deeply concerning to us, especially as we move into the fall and winter months when there is higher community transmission… Black communities were already disproportionately impacted last year before we had vaccinations.”

In addition to RHHD’s ongoing outreach and vaccination efforts, RHHD plans to combat this disparity with a three part action plan:

  •  Transparency and data sharing: RHHD will inform the general public on this disparity. RHHD will also provide special communication to key stakeholders (namely schools, faith communities, pediatricians, and parents) on the disparity so data trends can inform their work.
  • Outreach and education: RHHD will expand its partnerships with afterschool programs, youth employers, sports leagues, youth group homes, and more to provide youth an opportunity to ask questions and receive accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Vaccination opportunities: RHHD will partner with schools and other youth-focused partners to offer COVID-19 vaccinations onsite. RHHD will also continue to monitor areas with low vaccine uptake to offer COVID-19 vaccines in those areas.

“RHHD will continue building relationships with our neighbors, embedding vaccination opportunities within local African American communities, and developing partnerships with community leaders,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “This disparity weighs heavily on us and we are ready to keep showing up for our local communities.” COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Richmond. To find a COVID-19 vaccination opportunity, visit vax.rchd.com or call 804-205-3501.

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RHHD EXPANDS COMMUNITY HUBS TO INCLUDE COVID-19 TESTING

September 3, 2021- Starting the week of September 5th, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will open COVID-19 testing services at two of the COVID-19 vaccination community hubs that opened earlier this week. The two hubs will provide communities a consistent and reliable location to get tested for COVID-19. Meanwhile, a rotating testing clinic is also being added to increase access to testing across more communities.

The two hubs include Tuesdays at Second Baptist Church (drive through) and Wednesdays at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center (walk up). Both hubs offer testing from 9:00am-11:00am. Rotating events on Thursdays will occur at various locations and times with the first happening on September 9th at Hotchkiss Field Community Center from 1:00pm-3:00pm.

“Throughout the planning of the COVID-19 vaccination hubs, we have been working to offer more services out of the sites,” explains Dylan Knight, Testing Coordinator at RHHD. “Offering testing in the morning and vaccines in the afternoon allows us to offer those services at the same site without potentially exposing someone who is coming in to get vaccinated with someone who may be coming in with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.”

To learn more about all available COVID-19 vaccination and testing, visit www.rchd.com.

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

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RHHD OPENS COMMUNITY COVID-19 VACCINATION HUBS

August 30, 2021- Starting in September, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will open four COVID-19 vaccination hubs that will each operate weekly in the coming months. These four small hubs will supplement RHHD’s ongoing pop up events in partnership with large employers, faith communities, community organizations, and more.

The opening of the four hubs follows the closing of RHHD’s last mass vaccination site at George Wythe High School earlier this month. Hubs are located in Richmond’s downtown and southside and in eastern and western Henrico to provide access to multiple communities.

“What we learned throughout our vaccination efforts so far is that a combination of clinics at stable locations and pop up events with community outreach is helpful in creating vaccine access,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor at RHHD. “These small hubs allow for folks to learn about events through word of mouth…communities know where we will be.”

The clinic locations and times are as follows:

  • Tuesdays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm (first clinic on September 7th): Second Baptist Church (3300 Broad Rock Blvd)
  • Wednesdays, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm: Henrico Recreation Center (1440 N Laburnum Ave)
  • Thursdays, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm: RHHD Downtown Location (400 E Cary St)
  • Fridays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm: RHHD Henrico West Location (8600 Dixon Powers Dr)

To learn more about all available COVID-19 vaccination opportunities, visit vax.rchd.com.

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

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RICHMOND OPIOID TASK FORCE RECOGNIZES INTERNATIONAL OPIOID AWARENESS DAY (8/31) WITH PREVENTION EVENTS

August 27, 2021- The Richmond Opioid Task Force and Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are honoring International Opioid Awareness Day with education and Naloxone dispensing events throughout the day.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include fentanyl, heroin, and many prescription pain medications. In 2020, 430 people in the Richmond area (Richmond City and Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield Counties) died of a drug overdose, with opioids contributing to 90% of those deaths. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose and save lives.

“This is a day for us to remember those who we have lost, educate one another on ways to support loved ones who use substances, and learn how to respond to overdose emergencies,” explains Julie Karr, Opioid Coordinator at RHHD.

Events are scheduled on August 31, 2021 throughout the day and offer Naloxone as well as information on harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. The day concludes with a candlelight vigil at 6:00pm at McShin Foundation (2300 Dumbarton Rd).

Below is the list of events:

  • Brookland Park (2931 Chamberlayne Ave), 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Neighborhood Resource Center (1519 Williamsburg Rd), 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Deep Run Park (9900 Ridgefield Pkwy), 11:00am-3:00pm

  • Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church (913 N 1st St), 11:30am-1:30pm

  • REAL Life and Family Transition Coaches (1111 N 25th St), 2:00-4:00pm

  • Daily Planet (517 W Grace St), 2:00-6:00pm

  • Monroe Park (620 W Main St), 4:00-6:00pm

  • Richmond City Health District (400 E Main St), 4:00-6:00pm

  • McShin Foundation (2300 Dumbarton Rd), 4:30-7:30pm

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

 

RCHD Website  |  HCHD Website  |   RCHD Facebook  |  HCHD Facebook  |  RCHD Instagram  |  RCHD Twitter

 

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RHHD recomienda el uso de mascarillas en lugares de encuentro en el interior

Use una mascarilla en lugares interiores. Incluso si está vacunado. 

30 de julio del 2021: Los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico recomiendan ahora a todos el uso de mascarilla en el interior mientras estén cerca de otras personas que no forman parte de su hogar, independientemente de su estado de vacunación contra el COVID-19. A raíz de los nuevos datos que sugieren que las vacunas contra el COVID-19 podrían no evitar que una persona vacunada propague el COVID-19 causado por la variante Delta, los CDC recomiendan en estos momentos el uso de mascarillas en interiores en zonas con una transmisión comunitaria elevada o alta de COVID-19. Tanto la ciudad de Richmond como el condado de Henrico están experimentando una transmisión comunitaria elevada. 

Esta recomendación local permanecerá en vigor hasta que se notifique lo contrario, incluso si la transmisión comunitaria cae a niveles moderados o bajos. Los expertos clínicos y epidemiológicos de RHHD tendrán en cuenta la transmisión comunitaria, los casos, las hospitalizaciones, las muertes y los datos de vacunación – así como las leyes y directrices federales y estatales, para cambiar la recomendación de la mascarilla universal.

“Creemos que esta recomendación facilitará el seguimiento sistemático de las indicaciones de los CDC”, explica la Dra. Viray, subdirectora de los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico. “La gente puede saber simplemente que tiene que coger una mascarilla al salir por la puerta sin tener que consultar en los paneles de salud pública la transmisión comunitaria.”  

La vacuna contra el COVID-19 sigue siendo la mejor manera de protegerse de los efectos graves del COVID-19, incluyendo la enfermedad causada por la variante Delta. Las vacunas contra el COVID-19 siguen impidiendo la transmisión de muchas variantes existentes, así como el desarrollo de nuevas variantes.

“Quiero resaltar la seguridad y eficacia de todas las vacunas contra el COVID-19 actualmente disponibles”, dice Amy Popovich, la directora de enfermería de RHHD. “Tenemos este increíble recurso ampliamente disponible que nos ayudará a poner fin a la pandemia. Si aún no está seguro de la vacuna, llámenos y pregúntenos sus dudas. ” 

Para obtener información sobre las posibilidades de vacunación contra el COVID-19 en el zona de Richmond y Henrico, visite a vax.rchd.com o llame al 804-205-3501. 

“Quiero resaltar la seguridad y eficacia de todas las vacunas contra el COVID-19 disponibles actualmente”, dice Amy Popovich, la directora de enfermería de RHHD. “Tenemos este increíble recurso ampliamente disponible que nos ayudará a poner fin a la pandemia. Si aún no está seguro de la vacuna, llámenos y pregúntenos sus dudas. ” 

 

Acerca de los distritos sanitarios de Richmond y Henrico: RHHD son agencias de salud pública hermanas que sirven a las comunidades de Richmond y Henrico. Nuestra misión es exponer y abordar las causas fundamentales de las disparidades sanitaria, proteger la salud previniendo la propagación de enfermedades y generar equidad sanitaria asociándonos con las comunidades y trabajando en colaboración con todos los sectores.

COVID-19 CHILD DEATH IN RICHMOND/HENRICO AREA

August 20, 2021 – Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) received notice of a recent death of a child caused by COVID-19. The child was between the ages of 0-9. The death will be reflected on the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard tomorrow. To protect the privacy of the child’s family, RHHD will not be releasing any further details.

“Our hearts are heavy as we share this tragic and devastating news,” says Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of RHHD. “We send our condolences to the family and are thinking of them in this incredibly difficult time.”

This is the second reported childhood death caused by COVID-19 in Richmond and Henrico and tenth in the state of Virginia.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to be the best way to protect our most vulnerable, including children too young to get vaccinated. To protect children from severe illness or death from COVID-19, RHHD recommends the following:

  • Children 12 and older should be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Everyone who spends time with children under the age of 12 should be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Children should wear masks while indoors with individuals who are not a part of their household and should practice social distancing
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should follow self-isolation guidelines to avoid passing COVID-19 to children

For more information on preventing COVID-19, visit rchd.com or call 804-205-3501.

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

 

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EAT RESTAURANT PARTNERS WORK WITH RHHD TO OFFER COVID-19 VACCINATION OPPORTUNITIES

AUGUST 18, 2021  – Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are partnering with EAT Restaurant Partners to offer COVID-19 vaccines to restaurant workers and the general public. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be offered at Fat Dragon (1200 N Arthur Ashe Blvd) on Thursday, August 19th from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm. 

Individuals vaccinated at the event can enjoy 15% off of their entire bill at any of Eat Restaurants Partners’ locations on August 19th by showing their vaccination card. Participating restaurants include Fat Dragon, Foo Dog, Boulevard Burgers and Brew, Wong Gonzalez, Pizza Beer Richmond, Hot Chick, Beijing on Grove, Red Salt, Fatty Smokes, Wong’s Tacos, Lucky Asian Fusion, Osaka, and Wild Ginger. 

Eat Restaurant Partners is also holding the event to ensure vaccines are accessible to their staff. They are offering additional incentives for their employees.

“Something we pride ourselves at EAT group is not only offering great food, but also an incredible atmosphere,” explains Brooke Clarke of Eat Restaurant Partners. “We want our customers to know that we value their health and safety… and getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe from COVID-19.” 

“Partnering with employers has been one of the most effective methods of getting folks vaccinated this summer,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor. “It’s a win-win; employees have an accessible option to access this critical health service and employers can feel more assured that they are maintaining a healthy workplace environment for their employees.” 

For more information on COVID-19 vaccine opportunities in the Richmond and Henrico area, visit vax.rchd.com or call 804-205-3501. 

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

 

RCHD Website  |  HCHD Website  |   RCHD Facebook  |  HCHD Facebook  |  RCHD Instagram  |  RCHD Twitter  

 

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