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MAKING A MARK: Partnership helps bridge nutrition gap in Hampton Roads

The Neighborhood Harvest and ACCESS College Foundation have teamed up to get healthy food to local families in need.

NORFOLK, Va. — It's a crisis only worsened by the pandemic--food insecurity.

"It's created just a more costly experience for people... because they're not going out or they're not getting food where they normally get it because of the supply issues," said Baker's Crust Owner John Stein.

Stein is also CEO of The Neighborhood Harvest, a home delivery service for local, fresh, and organic food. "We started it as a small basil farm, and then we evolved more into just really the local farmer's market company delivered to your front door," said Stein.

As part of his philanthropic efforts, Stein sits on the board of ACCESS College Foundation. The nonprofit helps public school students obtain postsecondary education. After families were impacted by school closures last year, Stein came up with a way to help. 

"I reached out to Bonnie Sutton, ACCESS' president and CEO, to partner, to try and locate families who don't have access to nutritious food-- specifically trying to nourish the minds of children on the pathway to college," said Stein.

Through the partnership, The Neighborhood Harvest has fed 25 middle school families every other week since October. Bonnie Sutton said a healthy diet is critical to a student's college journey. 

"If you are hungry, if you do not have the proper nutritious foods, your brain is not going to get what it needs to learn well and to be able to focus and study," said Sutton.

The deliveries not only address food insecurity, said Sutton, but reduce stress in unprecedented times. "It's amazing for our families," Sutton said. "It's one less thing for them to have to worry about."

The Neighborhood Harvest is currently matching donations from its customers to this effort. Stein says he hopes to help feed more families through the partnership with ACCESS College Foundation in the future.

For more information about The Neighborhood Harvest. For more information about ACCESS College Foundation.

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