Community organizations & healthcare providers eligible to apply for grants to address hunger

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Healthcare Connections has announced the opening of its 2019 Community Health Grants cycle, which will make available six awards of up to $15,000 each to eligible Louisiana entities for programs that address food insecurity at the community level.

Healthcare providers, schools, and non-profit community organizations across the state are encouraged to apply. Applications must be received no later than June 21, 2019. Grant awards will be announced by July 15, 2019.

Defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life, food insecurity is an issue that affects every parish in Louisiana. According to Hunger Free America’s 2017 National Report on Hunger, approximately 20 percent of the state’s population is classified as food insecure. The report also found that Louisiana has the second highest rate of food insecure children, and the highest rate of food insecure seniors, in the nation.

Since 2012, Louisiana Healthcare Connections has been dedicated to transforming health in Louisiana with a priority focus on healthy communities. Through continuous outreach and research, the health plan has identified food insecurity as an issue that affects a significant percentage of its more than 450,000 members. The Community Health Grants program was launched in 2018 as part of Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ efforts to address food insecurity in the communities where its members live and work.

For 2019, the number of grant awards has been increased from three to up to six, with eligible awardees to receive up to $15,000 to fund food insecurity-focused projects. The grants are targeted toward projects that contribute to strengthening individuals, families, and communities by providing food resources coupled with nutrition, health, and wellness education.

“People who are food insecure are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, have higher hospitalization and emergency room usage, and are less productive than their peers,” says Chelsea Graves, Community Relations Principal for Louisiana Healthcare Connections. “This grant program gives us an opportunity to partner with community-level organizations, schools and providers that share our commitment to improving access to healthy foods for Louisiana families so those families can lead healthier, more productive lives.”

The Community Health Grants program is a key element in Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ multi-tiered strategy to address food insecurity at the community level. This innovative approach also includes SNAP matching programs at fresh produce markets in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to increase access to fresh produce for families receiving SNAP benefits, and education and toolkits to assist healthcare providers in identifying and addressing food insecurity at the point of care. The Healthy Louisiana Medicaid health plan has also implemented partnership programs with food banks across the state, and provided volunteer and financial support for community gardens, feeding programs and nutritional education for all ages.

“The impact of hunger on health outcomes is non-sustainable for our state,” says Jamie Schlottman, CEO and Plan President. “Partnerships with community and healthcare organizations are key to helping us combat food insecurity. By working together, we can increase access to healthy foods, reduce hunger and improve health for Louisiana families.”

Additional information about this initiative as well as the Community Health Grants RFP are available on the organization’s website, www.LouisianaHealthConnect.com/grants. Questions may be directed to CommunityGrants@LouisianaHealthConnect.com.