(PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md.) — The silence of hunger has been heard loud and clear thanks to the Prince George’s County Food Security Task Force, the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), and IPHI’s Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC). The group completed a report to address the county’s food-security challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report recommends 11 solutions (four foundational and seven general strategies) for the Prince George’s County Council, Office of the County Executive, and County agencies to adopt.
The report highlights timely policy recommendations and strategies to improve food security, increase food system resiliency, and ensure county agency and community officials are prepared to respond to food-security challenges in future public health, environmental, or economic emergencies. “The Food Security Task Force final report and recommendations set the table for addressing food insecurity in the county and its impact on our quality of life. It presents a strong foundation and best practices guide for the county, especially as we continue to address the additional impacts of ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Task Force Chair, Council Member Todd M. Turner (4th Council District).
The following recommendations are outlined in the report:
a. Create and fund a Prince George’s County Food Security Office.
b. Gather, analyze, and use data to inform and drive County agency food security decisions.
c. Increase resident participation in federal nutrition assistance programs.
d. Develop a master communication strategy for food security, resilience, and emergency preparedness.
Food Security Policies and Programs Recommendations
1. Plan for future food security disruptions by developing an emergency food security plan that integrates food system experts into existing emergency management operations.
2. Increase access to bulk food purchasing, infrastructure, and resources for food assistance providers.
3. Co-locate food security and social safety net services to create closed-loop referral systems.
4. Improve transportation options for residents to access healthy food retailers and providers.
5. Leverage state and regional partners for cross-jurisdictional food systems planning, coordinated communication, and infrastructure development.
6. Provide land access, infrastructure, and resources to help agriculture flourish.
7. Continue to provide and expand market incentives to support healthy food retailers of multiple sizes in target communities.
The Task Force advised the Prince George’s County Council and County Executive to implement these recommendations to address the ongoing food security crisis.
IPHI Senior Program Manager Sydney Daigle said, “The recommendations provided in this report are informed by experts and advocates who have been working tirelessly to address food security during the pandemic and for years before it. Taken collectively, these strategies present an opportunity to advance healthy food access and food security for residents now and for years to come.”
The Prince George’s County Council established the Prince George’s County Food Security Task Force in 2020 and it was extended in 2021. The Task Force is comprised of 21 members from specific county agencies and non-profit food system stakeholders. The Task Force leveraged the Food System Study initiated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and FEC to serve as a guide to combat food insecurity, which can stem from several interrelated causes.
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About the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council: The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC) is a local food policy council that works to help residents grow, sell, and choose healthy foods. Since 2013, FEC has been a voice for county residents at the policymaking table. The FEC focuses on systematic and sustainable changes to promote health, economic opportunity, food security, and well-being in Prince George’s by advocating for policy that creates a more equitable local food system. The FEC is housed within the Institute for Public Health Innovation. For more information on FEC, visit www.pgcfec.org and follow FEC on social media @pgcfec.
About the Institute for Public Health Innovation:
IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. IPHI strengthens health systems, policies, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable opportunities for all. IPHI is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information about IPHI, visit: www.institutephi.org, and follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.
Giving Tuesday 2021: Join Us In Our Fight for Healthy and Equitable Communities
This Giving Tuesday, consider a gift to IPHI as we work to dismantle health inequities and strengthen communities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) works to improve health systems and policies, enhance conditions that promote health, and build community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. We believe that all communities should have equal opportunities to live and be healthy. Here are highlights of some of the programs and initiatives we’ve supported in 2021.
Community Health Worker Initiatives: Working with our partners, IPHI helps develop, coordinate, and evaluate Community Health Worker (CHW) initiatives. IPHI conducts CHW and clinical care team training programs; designs, coordinates, and evaluates CHW programs; builds awareness about the value of CHWs across the community; grows and sustains the CHW workforce and CHW services, including laying the groundwork for policy change to enable CHW certification and more sustainable financing; and supports the development of the Center for the Community Health Workforce and CHW professional networks.
The DC Healthy Housing Collaborative is a multi-sector coalition seeking to address substandard housing conditions that contribute to significant health issues affecting District of Columbia residents. The DC Healthy Housing Collaborative envisions a DC where all housing promotes health, wellness, safety, and is affordable. DC will be a city where all are welcome and can thrive in powerful resilient and well-resourced communities.
Healthy and Equitable Communities Training To address the preventable and unjust health inequities found in communities throughout the United States, IPHI offers trainings and technical assistance to organizations and coalitions. Our trainings fuse theory with practice and allow participants to apply the knowledge and tools presented in training and implement them in their everyday work to create healthy, equitable, thriving communities.
ImmunizeVA is a statewide immunization coalition that strives to protect the health and well-being of all Virginians by achieving and maintaining full immunization protection through education, advocacy, statewide collaboration, and the promotion of equity.
Prince George’s Food Equity Council works to improve public health and community well-being of all who live, work, study, worship, and play in the County. The FEC believes every resident, regardless of their race, class, or zip code, should be able to easily access healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate, and locally produced foods. FEC partners and volunteers work to increase food storage and distribution, improving access to food assistance resources, and increasing access to healthy food for food insecure residents at risk for diabetes through enrollment in our food-as-medicine program, Prince George’s Fresh.
COVID Response and Recovery: We continue to partner with the Virginia Department of Health and Fairfax County Health Department to hire, train, and employ COVID-19 public health workers deployed locally for COVID-19 emergency response. IPHI is working side-by-side with VDH and Fairfax County Health Department to contain COVID-19 through effective case investigation, contact tracing, and community outreach and support. IPHI has also launched the Community Health Workers for a Healthy Virginia as a strategic intervention to assist at-risk communities and populations in the response and recovery from COVID-19.
Learn more about IPHI and how your donation can propel IPHI into 2022. For more information including ways you can get involved, visit here.
The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) is currently recruiting experienced and organized community health worker (CHW) consultant trainers to support our organization. The CHW Consultant Trainer must be familiar with the role of community health workers and have had at least two to three years of experience training health outreach concepts. The CHW Consultant Trainer will be responsible for administering community health outreach training to newly hired CHWs, CHW Supervisors, organizations, and their community or clinical teams. The training will be conducted through core competency skills and continuing education programs in a variety of formats, including online/e-learning, virtual classroom, live instructor-led, and blended learning environments.
The CHW Trainer Consultant will:
Participate in CHW training as an attendee to understand the materials, information and develop a facilitation style supportive of the CHW role.
Participate in the train-the-trainers to get acclimated to the training curriculum and associated materials.
Support the current community health worker team with a demanding training schedule to facilitate numerous training when necessary.
Provide health outreach, core competency skill, and disease-specific information with knowledge of adult learning methods and participatory activities to ensure skill adoption.
Engage in continuous learning and training.
Consultant Trainer Requirements and Qualifications:
Two (2) years’ previous experience as a CHW trainer, health outreach training specialist, or related position.
Bachelor’s degree in education, business, human resources, information technology, or related field.
Preference for individuals with work experience in non-profits, local government, or health and human services organizations.
Experience with training and curriculum development.
From and or familiar with the DC, Maryland, and Virginia Region is a plus but not required.
Proficient computer skills, Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel), and instructional software
Experience with technologies and best practices for instructional manuals, teaching platforms, and virtual meeting technology and tools such as (Zoom, Jam Board, etc.)
Good interpersonal skills and communication with all levels of management
Able to multitask, prioritize, and manage time efficiently
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
A commitment to health equity and racial justice.
Ability to work with diverse individuals and groups on complex community issues.
This is a contractual position and consultants will receive an agreed-upon fee for work on a project completed by a specified date. This fee will be calculated at an hourly rate based on the project budget and required deliverables. This position does not come with company benefits.
Location: IPHI has offices in Washington, DC; Largo, MD; and Richmond, VA. In 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IPHI has a flexible telecommuting policy, though some travel, in-person meetings, and on-site work are likely to be required for this position.
If you’re interested in applying for this position, please contact: Dwyan Monroe, IPHI CHW Program Coordinator [email protected]
CDC Awards Virginia $4.3M to Scale Up Community Health Workers to Support Covid-19 Response and Recovery
(RICHMOND, Va.) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded more than $4.3 million to the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), which applied for funding on behalf of the Virginia Department of Health and a host of collaborating partners, to expand the roles and capacity of community health workers (CHWs) in supporting COVID-19 response and recovery in the Commonwealth. The funded effort entitled, Community Health Workers for a Healthy Virginia (CHWs for a Healthy VA), will also explore innovative financing strategies to help build and sustain the CHW workforce long-term. The CDC grant is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act of 2020.
Community health workers are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the communities they serve. These trusting relationships enable CHWs to conduct community outreach, provide health education, offer social support, and facilitate access to community resources effectively.
As required by the CDC, the Virginia initiative will focus on geographic areas of Virginia with high rates of COVID-19 identified by project partners. Those areas include parts of the Richmond metro region, Norfolk, Portsmouth, the Danville area, and the Southwest Virginia communities served by the Mount Rogers Health District. Through the grant, community-based organizations, health care providers, local health departments, and other partners will hire and deploy CHWs, and IPHI will assist with training and provide technical assistance. Public health approaches utilizing CHWs will address gaps in access to COVID-related services, such as testing, vaccination, and quarantine support, and respond to community needs that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, such as access to health and mental health care, housing services, and food assistance.
“For a variety of reasons COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on some communities including urban African American and LatinX communities and rural communities in Southwest Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Community health workers on the frontlines, embedded in communities, have a unique view of community and individual needs. Developing the community health worker workforce has been a priority for Virginia for many years, and this grant is a big boost to our efforts.”
“The Institute for Public Health Innovation is honored to lead this important effort on behalf of Virginia Department of Health and so many other partners across Virginia,” said IPHI President and CEOMichael Rhein. “It’s exciting to see the federal government make these investments in CHWs in Virginia and across the country. CHWs are an essential aspect of any state’s action to eliminate disparities and inequities in public health.”
IPHI, VDH, and their partners will work within priority communities and populations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, support community recovery, and resilience, and implement demonstration projects to test financing models to sustain CHWs and community resource providers. The goals for pilot communities include increasing primary care service use and access to community services among high-risk populations, decreasing emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and reducing healthcare spending. CHWs for a Healthy VA will support the front-line pandemic response and recovery efforts. It will also promote long-term community health by creating replicable and sustainable financing models that will strengthen and permanently reinforce the CHW-workforce throughout Virginia.
The CARES Act allocated funds to the CDC to train and deploy CHWs to respond to COVID-19 efforts and to build and reinforce community resilience. The CHWs for a Healthy VA will serve more than 1.6 million residents in Virginia.
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The CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fully funded the first year of Virginia’s project with a grant of $4,339,895. CDC intends to offer two subsequent years of funding based on progress and availability of funds. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.
About Institute for Public Health Innovation
IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. IPHI’s work strengthens health systems and policy, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. This non-profit is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and is a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information on IPHI, visit: www.institutephi.org. Follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.
Since 2016, IPHI has partnered with MCPS health to build the capacity of Local School Wellness Councils (LSWC) to reduce childhood obesity and improve student wellness. These local wellness councils have guided schools to identify their wellness needs and develop goals to enhance student health and well-being.
Due to COVID-19, project partners developed a survey to assess how active schools have been engaged in health and wellness efforts this past school year and to gather information on how to best meet schools’ health and wellness needs. This report summarizes the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from efforts to support LSWC’s and offers recommendations to sustain the future work of the LSWCs.
During this past school year, LSWC’s provided critical support to students and teachers around wellness. Schools offered fitness challenges and mindfulness sessions to support students emotional well-being. Schools hosted both virtual and outdoor opportunities and maintained connections with their students and families through home visits or a “walk-by” and virtual chat-and-chew sessions. In addition, schools were able to provide families with fresh produce and food assistance resources due to the significant economic impact COVID-19 had on family’s ability to access healthy foods.
Throughout the past four years, the project team has successfully implemented local school wellness councils in 110 schools, reaching 81,016 students, and developed the first School Wellness Toolkit in the state of Maryland that guides schools in how to create a local school wellness council.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. ImmunizeVA is celebrating in a number of ways.
In July, the coalition announced its newest mascot, Tracker. To celebrate Immunization Awareness Month, the coalition is hosting a Tracker-themed coloring contest. Expect to see her tracking vaccines across Virginia!
In August, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a governor’s proclamation to recognize Immunization Awareness Month. ImmunizeVA also launched an ‘Our Shot’ social media campaign.
Upcoming Coalition events include:
a presentation titled ‘Influenza in the time of SARS-CoV-2’ by Dr. Jon Temte
Washington, DC — The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) was awarded $1 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help increase COVID-19 vaccinations in high-need areas of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Maryland. IPHI was one of 127 organizations awarded $121 million in America Rescue Plan funds. The one-year grant will support IPHI in partnering with eight clinics and community-based organizations. Project partners will utilize community health workers (CHW) to share public health information and support their fellow community members to trust and receive the vaccine.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health disparities and inequities in Washington, D.C. and neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland. Residents in these communities need dedicated support to have their questions answered, navigate barriers to vaccination, and connect to necessary resources,” said IPHI president & CEO Michael Rhein. Outreach will focus primarily on the geographic areas of Southeast D.C. (wards 7 and 8) and the areas of neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland that are closest to D.C. Historically, these areas have experienced poorer health outcomes due to a variety of social and economic factors and have lower rates of vaccinations. The collaborative efforts of this project will offer additional outreach, engagement, information, and navigation to resources from trusted, trained community members. Mobilizing CHWs is a critical strategy to achieve more equitable health outcomes.
IPHI will partner with the following local organizations:
Capital Area Food Bank
Family & Medical Counseling Service, Inc.
Food & Friends
La Clínica del Pueblo
Volunteers of America
“With longstanding regional inequities more pronounced than ever, we’re pleased to work with IPHI to help people get the information and resources they need to safeguard their health. People want to hear from those they know and trust, and we’re proud to be a community partner that our neighbors can turn to,” said Capital Area Food Bank President Radha Muthiah. CHWs are trusted members of and/or have a close understanding of the community who are trained and employed as part of the public health workforce. Rhein added, “Using CHWs to enhance community outreach and health education is an evidence-based strategy. With the rise of the Delta variant, we cannot slow our efforts to offer every area resident the information and support needed to get vaccinated.”
IPHI will serve as the lead coordinating organization, providing overarching employment, training, management, and administrative support. Local partners will assist in recruiting CHWs from within their communities and serve as placement sites for the 12-month period. IPHI is hiring community health workers to work with the community in increasing vaccination. Candidates interested in applying for these positions should visit: here.
The goal of the American Rescue Plan funding is to support trusted voices in local communities in sharing information about vaccines, building vaccine confidence, and addressing barriers to vaccination for individuals in under-resourced communities. This funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through HRSA.
About Institute for Public Health Innovation
IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Our work strengthens health systems and policy, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. IPHI is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information on IPHI, visit: www.institutephi.org. Follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.
Three new refrigerated trailers that are part of a $315,000 investment by Washington Gas to support food security will increase food storage capacity, reduce food waste, and create sustainable infrastructure to respond to future food system disruptions
July 20, 2021 (Prince George’s County, MD) – Today, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC), an initiative of the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), and Washington Gas introduced three new cold storage trailers at non-profit food assistance organizations in Brandywine, Landover, and Lanham. In partnership with Washington Gas, the FEC helped partners purchase, upgrade, and design a wrap for the refrigerated trailers that will enable food assistance providers and food pantries to distribute more fresh food to residents in need.
The three new 58 x 8-foot trucks will each be shared by at least four neighboring organizations. Participating organizations will work together to purchase perishable foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy that will be stored in the shared refrigerated space. The trailers provide an opportunity to distribute more fresh and healthy food items to under-resourced and vulnerable families. The new space helps increase the amount of food that can be stored and distributed while also reducing the amount of perishable food wasted due to insufficient cold storage space.
Over the course of the pandemic, food insecurity has skyrocketed with an estimated 150,000 food-insecure residents in Prince George’s County, the highest food insecurity rates in the region. Food pantries have doubled down to meet the growing demand; however, infrastructure challenges have remained a significant barrier to increasing services.
“Cold storage space has been a major challenge for food assistance organizations and food pantries throughout the county,” said Sydney Daigle, FEC Director. “The increased demand on local service organizations requires more food and more space to store that food. If an organization can’t properly store the food they’re receiving, they’ll have to limit the amount they’re bringing in. By increasing the amount of space organizations have to properly store healthy food and keep it fresh, organizations can serve more families in need. That’s a huge win for our county.”
The three non-profit partners consider the project a way to strengthen their capabilities and build a better safety-net system for clients in their areas. “We know that our ability to reliably serve food for vulnerable clients is a collective effort,” said Pastor Tino Cione from Trinity Church of God, one of the trailer host sites. “The new trailers demonstrate how teamwork makes it possible to help us and other local service providers ensure more healthy food gets in the hands of more people at our distribution locations. This is an incredible gift that will have a positive impact across our local food distribution network.”
Washington Gas sees this as an opportunity to continue its support of immediate and long-term food security needs in the region, part of the company’s wider giving strategy supporting social service organizations throughout the DC-region. It also ties closely with the company’s mission of improving the quality of life by safely and reliably connecting customers to affordable sources of energy today and beyond. Funding for this project went toward the purchase and upgrades of the three trailers at Key to Karma, Shabach! Emergency Resource Center, and Trinity Assembly of God. Washington Gas also supported the hiring of local artists to design and paint the outside of the trailers.
“We applaud our partners at the Prince George’s County Food Council for the innovative approach of adding cold food storage capacity to better meet the critical needs of our community,” said Blue Jenkins, President of Washington Gas. “As a provider of essential and reliable energy services to the region and members of this community, we are committed to giving back and supporting our neighbors in need with essential fresh foods. We recognize that food insecurity issues have grown significantly during the pandemic and we all have a role to play in caring for our communities.”
“Throughout the pandemic, we have provided $315,000 to assist the distribution and availability of nutritious food for residents in communities across the region,” added Jenkins. “Together, our collaboration makes possible the infrastructure for sustained and reliable access to essential food for our neighbors now and into the future.”
While food insecurity pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic, financial insecurity and intersecting challenges caused by the pandemic increased food insecurity and raised these challenges as a top priority for funders, non-profit partners, and local government.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens public health and safety for our residents, has worsened existing food insecurity issues throughout our region, including Prince George’s County,” said Council Member Todd M. Turner (4th Council District). “These challenges have spurred local government, community partners, and funders to jointly develop creative strategies to help feed our community. These new refrigerated trailers offer great examples of the innovative solutions that help to increase the amount of fresh, healthy foods that food distribution partners are giving to families in need every day.”
In addition to addressing the growing trend of food insecurity, the project serves as a proof of concept for future innovative food system infrastructure projects. Partners will continue to share best practices and explore lessons learned to develop additional cold storage solutions and increase the distribution of healthy, fresh food in Prince George’s County.
About the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council:
The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC) is a local food policy council that works to help residents grow, sell, and choose healthy foods. Since 2013, FEC has been a voice for county residents at the policymaking table. The FEC focuses on systematic and sustainable changes to promote health, economic opportunity, food security, and well-being in Prince George’s by advocating for policy that creates a more equitable local food system. The FEC is housed within the Institute for Public Health Innovation. For more information on FEC, visit www.pgcfec.org and follow FEC on social media @pgcfec.
About the Institute for Public Health Innovation:
IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Our work strengthens health systems and policy, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. IPHI is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information on IPHI, see www.institutephi.org, and follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.
About Washington Gas
Washington Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of AltaGas Ltd, is a regulated natural gas utility that provides safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 1.2 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The company has been providing energy to residential, commercial and industrial customers for more than 173 years. Visit us at www.washingtongas.com and follow us on Twitter @washingtongas, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Prince George’s County Food Equity Council
Julia Groenfeldt, Coordinator
E: [email protected]