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Kaiser Permanente Support Access to Healthy Food During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Kaiser Permanente is supporting local nonprofits as they seek innovative ways to enroll eligible households in CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which has seen a surge in applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to ensure people have access to and can afford nutritious food, to help keep them healthy.

Kaiser Permanente is awarding $95,000 grants to both the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) and the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center (TVHC) to help serve the growing number of people in the community who need food assistance, many of whom have lost their jobs because of COVID-19.

  • The Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center provides medical, dental, and mental health care services to low-income, uninsured, and publicly insured patients in Central and Southern Alameda County. The Kaiser Permanente funding will enable the clinic to offer enrollment assistance to vulnerable populations through promotoras (community health workers), referrals from partner agencies and outreach to its own clients.

 

  • The Alameda County Community Food Bank distributes millions of pounds of food each year to 350 agency and distribution partners like food pantries, hot-meal programs, senior centers, and other nonprofits in Alameda County. With the grant, the organization will pilot new virtual processes to safely provide CalFresh enrollment assistance to eligible clients, with an emphasis on reaching households impacted by COVID-19 who may qualify for CalFresh for the first time. ACCFB expects to enroll 7,000 households in CalFresh this year, up from the 4,500 – 5,000 households it typically assists.

 

The need for food assistance is on the rise throughout Alameda County, and Juan Francisco Orozco, corporate and foundation relations manager at the Alameda County Community Food Bank said support for CalFresh outreach is critical.

 

“CalFresh gives people the ability to shop for the food they need most,” Orozco said. “The more people enroll and benefit from CalFresh, the better our food bank can extend our food resources throughout the community.”

 

The two East Bay grants are among 18 grants Kaiser Permanente is awarding to food banks, community clinics, and family resource centers in Northern California to increase enrollment in CalFresh, with an emphasis on outreach to underserved communities. CalFresh helps low income individuals, families, and households to purchase nutritious food, providing up to $204 a month per household member in food benefits.

 

“The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has left an estimated 1 in 6 U.S. households at risk of going hungry,” said Edmund Chan, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente East Bay Area. “We are proud to support our community partners in enrolling eligible households in CalFresh. We know that the ability to access and afford nutritious food is critical to maintaining good health.”

This fall, Kaiser Permanente also awarded additional grants to support access to healthy food, including:

 

  • $200,000 to the California Association of Food Banks to secure state funding for emergency food disaster assistance, distribute 175 million pounds of fresh produce and proteins through the Farm to Family program and increase the CalFresh enrollment rate statewide from 72% to 75% by the end of 2021.

 

  • $100,000 to California WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Association to share and support the adoption of innovative practices to ensure WIC benefits are provided to eligible families throughout California.

Kerri Leedy is the public relations and media relations manager for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

 

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