As millions of Texans struggle with food insecurity, managed care organizations are implementing life-changing programs to increase access to healthy foods across Texas with the help of state leaders and health care pioneers.
CareSource Bayou Health, a joint venture between Legacy Community Health and CareSource, is driving healthy change in Texas through strategic investments and partnerships with impactful organizations. The two organizations plan to expand their innovative programs and outreach to nearly 800,000 food insecure individuals in the Harris and Jefferson service areas through CareSource Bayou Health.
Health care leaders collaborating to fight food insecurity
Texas has the second-highest rate of food insecurity in the United States at 15.5% – 4% higher than the national average. Food can be viewed as medicine as there is a direct link between nutrition and health outcomes, and food insecurity has extensive impacts on the overall health of families.
Legacy Community Health and Houston Food Bank are making a difference through Food for Change, helping thousands of individuals each year achieve their goals through health screenings, patient education and food prescription cards. Health care professionals identify food insecure individuals and connect them to Food Rx, a food prescription program that allows patients to attend Food For Change Markets and receive 30 pounds of fruits and vegetables and four nonperishable items for free. Food insecure patients are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases; therefore, it is crucial to identify individuals before they become sick and empower them to embrace healthy choices. This innovative partnership resulted in the filing of state legislation creating The Healthy Food Is Good Medicine Act, which would pilot providing high-risk pregnant women nutritious foods to improve health outcomes. Advocacy across the state continues on this important topic.
CareSource shows essential food support to families through numerous programs and investments nationwide. As part of CareSource Life Services®, the nonprofit created CareSource FoodConnect®, a whole-person care approach that addresses food as a health-related need and connects members to vital nutritional support. CareSource’s established partnerships highlight their longstanding commitment to improving health.
Strategic partnerships expanding access to nutritious foods
In Houston, CareSource Bayou Health made a strategic community investment supporting patients at El Centro de Corazón, a nonprofit providing adult and pediatric health care, to receive grocery store cards to Little Red Box Grocery, a market in Houston’s Second Ward that helps residents access nutritious foods. The market extends the culture and care patients receive at El Centro de Corazón by building relationships locally and connecting them with necessary resources. Additionally, CareSource Bayou Health continued its support for the community by funding 300 grocery bags distributed at Fit Houston’s “East End Fit Houston Fest.”
Furthering the joint venture’s goal to solve food insecurity and empower families, CareSource Bayou Health made a strategic investment to help the Tejano Center open additional storefronts of La Tiendita. This market is a holistic food operation that provides food assistance to those facing food insecurity, counseling, case management and guidance for social services and federal programs. The combination of free and low-cost items at La Tiendita leads families toward financial independence and self-sufficiency.
The collaboration between health care leaders and community organizations with an established foundation in Texas creates a strong foothold when fighting food insecurity.
Empowering community organizations to implement food assistance programs
Through CareSource Bayou Health’s Texas Grant Challenge, the organization awarded thousands of dollars to community organizations such as Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, Inc. (ECHOS) and Community Family Centers. With this support, the organizations can host food fairs, fill free pantries and hold health and nutrition education sessions. Another grant recipient, New Hope Housing, Inc., was able to distribute 257,000 pounds of food, connect residents with fresh groceries through an onsite market and host cooking and education classes focused on reducing waste and meeting the cultural needs of the community.
To reach those in need of hope and help, March of Dimes Houston, another notable grant recipient, developed the Meals that Matter program in Houston, which provides meals to families and health care providers in the neonatal intensive care unit. By the end of November 2023, the program will have provided over 1,000 meals and snack bags to hospital partners throughout the Greater Houston area.
The initiatives created by grant recipients with the help of CareSource Bayou Health help families connect with food assistance programs when they need it most. CareSource Bayou Health aims to change the lives of thousands of Texans through its partnerships and investments targeting food insecurity. Having access to healthy foods provides a sense of hope and security, and Texas health care leaders are paving the way toward health and wellness for all.
CareSource Bayou Health is a joint venture between CareSource and Legacy Community Health, combining both organizations' mission-driven approaches for a lasting difference in the health of members and communities.