Ten Central Valley Food Banks, Charities and Neighborhood Groups Combat Food Insecurity Thanks to $350,000 in Grants from Health Net
With inflation making food more costly, food banks and community organizations need help feeding families that struggle to put food on the table
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 24, 2022) — Health Net has awarded more than $350,000 to community-based organizations (CBOs) in California's Central Valley that are dedicated to improving food access and health equity. The grants are part of Health Net's ongoing commitment to improve community health by addressing chronic food insecurity.
A community suffers from food insecurity when there's either not enough food, or when local diets generally lack quality, variety, or desirability. Research has shown that food insecurity is linked to many adverse effects for overall health.1
"Hunger and health are deeply connected," said Martha Santana Chin, Medi-Cal President of Health Net. "People who are food insecure are disproportionately affected by diet-sensitive diseases such as asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and high blood pressure. We invest in access to nutritious food because it improves the health of individuals and boosts the long-term wellness of communities."
The Central Valley contains more than 1.4 million acres of productive pasture and farmland. Yet, according to the Central California Food Bank in Fresno, hunger levels were 25% higher in Fresno in 2021 than in 2019. In addition, California produces nearly half of the nation's fruits and vegetables, yet 1 in 5 Californians do not know where their next meal will come from.
With more than 85 percent of their members enrolled in a government sponsored plan, Health Net has launched innovative programs which leverage local partnerships to combat food insecurity. This includes:
- Food Pharmacies, which support community organizations, offering nutrition classes, cooking demonstrations and direct access to healthy foods.
- Medically Tailored Meals, which reach vulnerable members and improve nutrition.
- Food Rx Programs, which reduce in-patient readmission and drive long-term cost savings.
To help reduce health disparities in the Central Valley, Health Net awarded 10 grants to CBOs. Among them, Salt + Light Works received $100,000 to support their innovative project, The Neighborhood Village (TNV). Breaking ground in 2022, TNV will be a supportive housing village for people in Tulare County who have experienced chronic homelessness. TNV will include a state-of-the-art community kitchen, which will provide meals for residents, a Farm-to-Table Culinary Training Program, and more.
Other grantees who received funding to expand their initiatives to combat food insecurity include:
- Central California Food Bank, which provides food to over 220 partner feeding sites including churches, community centers, and other organizations so they can feed the hungry in their respective neighborhoods.
- CityServe Bakersfield, which purchases and transports food into some of the hardest to reach neighborhoods across Kern County.
- CityServe Tulare/Kings, which provides lunches for children at school.
- Emergency Food Bank Stockton/San Joaquin, which provides fresh produce to community centers, senior centers, and schools, as well as community cooking demonstrations.
- Foodlink for Tulare County, which promotes equitable and dignified access to nutritious, healthy food while also addressing the root cause of hunger through education, advocacy and food systems change.
- Nourish California, which aims to remove barriers for Californians accessing programs like CalFresh by simplifying the application process for seniors and working with community partners to collect and organize stories in support of the Food4All Campaign to remove the immigrant exclusion policy.
- Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, which serves families, seniors, and individuals struggling with food security in Stanislaus County through their Mobile Fresh program.
- The Salvation Army, Modesto Corps, which supports medically tailored diabetic food programs within shelters through buying fresh produce, nutritionist supported meal planning for guests, and community outreach.
- United Samaritans Foundation, which serves approximately 1,500 lunches a day throughout Stanislaus County in 11 communities at 57 stops.
With decades of experience providing care for the state, Health Net continues to lead the charge to improve health equity with multi-faceted, collaborative and culturally relevant programs and interventions at the statewide and local level. To learn more about Health Net's industry-leading efforts to drive health equity, visit BridgingtheDivideCA.com and follow Health Net on Facebook and Twitter.
1 Adults and children who are food insecure may be at an increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes, like obesity, and health disparities. In addition, reduced frequency, quality, variety, and quantity of consumed foods may have a negative effect on children's mental health. Children also face a higher risk of developmental problems compared with food-secure children. The Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health, HealthyPeople.gov https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/food-insecurity