UnitedHealthcare partners with WCCHC to help families fight food insecurity
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Food insecurity is one of the most prevalent issues facing Hawaii families. According to Waianae Coast Comprehensive Healthcare Center (WCCHC), as many as 40 percent of Waianae families reported being food insecure even before the pandemic began, which is why UnitedHealthcare is redefining what access to care looks like by addressing each patient’s social needs and directing them to community resources that can help.
“There’s no question that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic left thousands of families across the state struggling to put food on the table, but it is also critical to remember that food insecurity was a major issue even before the pandemic began.
“Local families in Waianae and West Oahu are hurting,” says Leinaala Kanana, Director of Community Health Services at WCCHC. “Before the pandemic began, nearly 40 percent of our local families reported being food insecure. Once COVID-19 hit, that number was even higher.”
Through collaborations and funding, WCCHC has been able to expand its keiki and kupuna pantry and meal program to 14 distributions weekly to help ensure local families have access to good, nutritious food during these unprecedented times.
Nutrition is a critical part of a person’s overall health picture. It not only affects their physical health, but also their mental health. Not having access to a nutritious diet puts a lot of stress on the body. Across the country, it is estimated that medical bills for someone with food insecurity is 1.5 times higher than someone who is not.
In communities like Waianae, there’s a large Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian population. Among these ethnic groups heart disease and diabetes are especially prevalent. These diseases can be prevented when families have access to good food.
“Our health center truly looks at food as medicine and is intentional in the food it distributes,” Kanana adds. “Funding received is used to directly purchase fresh, local food from our farmers, fishermen, ranchers and dairies. We also have keiki and ohana produce prescription programs that further drives our commitment to viewing food as medicine. Providers at our health center now prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to eligible patients who are food insecure and suffer from chronic disease.”
If you want to help address food insecurity, UnitedHealthcare encourages others to donate to local food pantries, like the one at Waianae Coast Comprehensive and the Hawaii Foodbank. For more information, visit unitedhealthcare.com and wcchc.com.
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