Baton Rouge, La. – Louisiana Healthcare Connections has announced the award of $100,000 in grant funding to six community organizations in support of their efforts to address hunger and food insecurity in Louisiana communities. Grant recipients include:
St. Martin Hospital Road to Good Health Program This award-winning program, facilitated by registered dieticians and nurse practitioners, encourages health and wellness through education, outreach, and preventative care. Funding will assist in expanding the program to include healthy food access in rural areas, addressing food insecurity as well as diabetes, obesity, and other health issues.
The Family Tree Healthy Start Parent Store This free program for pregnant women and parents with children up to 18 months of age will provide individualized assistance in the Acadiana area through the parent store to address food insecurity and practical strategies for making healthy food choices for a healthy start.
Food Bank of Central Louisiana Mobile Pantries To help mitigate food insecurity in Central Louisiana, funds for this project will support operations for the food bank’s mobile pantry program which provides food to economically disadvantaged families in communities without existing local charitable food services.
Volunteers of America of North Louisiana Healthy Living Project This project will provide education to adults with serious mental illness about how to access, shop for, and prepare fresh and healthy food, in addition to how to monitor the positive impact these diet and lifestyle changes have on their physical and mental wellbeing.
West Jefferson Hospital Foundation Wellthy Farmer's Market Directly contributing to healthy outcomes, Medicaid-enrolled patients who do not have access to healthy choices will be provided with nutritional education and “Wellthy Bucks” to purchase locally sourced, farm fresh items.
The Walls Project, Hustle and Grow Program Funding for this community gardening program will allow healthy produce options to continue to be distributed in the North Baton Rouge area, considered a food desert, as well as the expansion of the Hustle & Grow curriculum to be offered to upwards of 75 high school students with training in urban agriculture toward certifications in Agritechnology and Horticulture.
With one out of four children and seniors in Louisiana living in a household that is food insecure, hunger affects every parish in the state. The Louisiana Healthcare Connections Community Health Grants program supports efforts to combat food insecurity and hunger at the community-level and seeks relationships where existing skills can be leveraged, current capacity is enhanced and collective impact is broad but meaningful.
Chosen from more than 50 detailed applications from across the state, selected projects were required to address hunger, food insecurity and/or food access at the community level.
“Improving health outcomes requires more than just access to quality medical care,” states Louisiana Healthcare Connections vice president of quality improvement, Yolanda Wilson. “Good health starts in the places where we live, learn, worship, work, and play. And because, at the local level, many of the solutions for good health already exist, investing in those solutions means positively impacting the health and health outcomes of our members and improving the health of our communities.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Food insecurity often requires a household to choose between basic necessities, such as medical needs or housing, and eating. According to the latest USDA Economic Research Service, Louisiana has improved its food security over the last few years, but still has the third highest food insecurity in the nation.
Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ Community Health Grants program launched in 2018 as part of the health plan’s efforts to combat food insecurity and hunger in Louisiana. The Healthy Louisiana Medicaid health plan has also implemented a number of other food insecurity-focused programs, including a physician toolkit to help healthcare professionals identify and address food insecurity at the point of care, and SNAP-match programs at several farmers marke