Portsmouth ‘community health hub’ helps people with pantry, classes, medical access

Around 60 people stop by the site on George Washington Highway weekly for a healthy food pantry, a Bon Secours administrator told 13News Now.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Access to healthy food and healthy living is a big goal for the staff at Bon Secours who work out of the community health hub in Portsmouth. Their outreach near Cradock includes a pantry, which dozens of people visit every Monday. 

“I work every day, but still you always need it because my medicine is $200-300 for pills,” said resident Mary Taylor. 

“Our bills have gone up, gas has gone up, but our money hasn’t,” said resident Dorothy Johnson

The two women were among dozens who stopped by the healthy food pantry at the community health hub on Monday. It provides free access to items like fresh vegetables, fruit, canned goods and meat.

“With the public health emergency, more and more people are experiencing food insecurity. So, we welcome them,” said Bon Secours Director of Community Health Phyllita Bolden. 

The pantry, Bolden mentioned, is just one part of the hub.

“They offer a lot of activities here. I’ve been to a diabetic class they have here, I’ve also been to a cooking class they have here,” Johnson added. 

“They have the opportunity not only to taste and sample food, but we also provide wraparound services,” Bolden said, who teased other programs ahead for the hub related to gardening and even financial security. 

Moreover, every other Monday, members of the medical team with the Bon Secours Care-A-Van are on-site at the hub on George Washington Highway to provide care for uninsured patients.

The free mobile clinic also rolls through various communities in Hampton Roads.

“We see a lot of people with diabetes, high blood pressure, medicine refills,” said Care-A-Van Medical Director Dr. Emily Lieb. 

Other healthcare professionals were also at the hub Monday for blood pressure screenings, at no cost.

As for the pantry, Bolden told 13News Now they partner with other groups, such as Food Lion and Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, to get the things they need.

However, they welcome donations from people in the community for items like produce, peanut butter and other healthy foods.

Bon Secours’ community health hub is located at 4700 George Washington Highway near Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth.

The healthy food pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays. It’s first-come, first served. Anyone is welcome, Bolden said.