In the healthcare industry, we know adequate and healthy foods play a significant role in the health of the body. We also know the realities of hunger in America which impacted 38 million households in 2020, an increase of nine percent from the year prior. With many households disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, we can have an impact through grants provided by Centura. In 2022, Centura funded a record 61 organizations with funds through our Centura Health Equity & Advancement Fund. The program, created in 2021, extends our mission to do more to meet the profound mental health, food security and social justice, and health equity needs in Colorado and western Kansas.
“By supporting 61 organizations through the Centura Health Equity and Advancement Fund, we are bringing new opportunities to enhance the health and wellbeing of our region,” said Oswaldo Grenardo, MD, SVP and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Centura Health. “From feeding our friends and neighbors who face food insecurity to those battling to get equal access to health care, these new and expanded community partnerships allow us to reach people who might otherwise continue to struggle. It is truly a blessing to be here for those that our mission calls us to serve.”
The Centura Health Equity & Advancement Fund was created to extend the impact of community-based efforts. Part of those efforts includes food insecurity initiatives. To continue our conversation from Hunger Action Month, we want to feature the incredible work some of our local grantees are doing to provide food as medicine, more equitable and just food systems, culturally relevant food, urban farms, and reduction of food insecurity for our agricultural workers:
- Project Angel Heart provides food as medicine, delivering comfort and support through high-quality nutrition services, including medically tailored meals, free of charge. Regardless of a person’s background or circumstances, Project Angel Heart believes everyone should have access to the nutrition they need—especially when they are sick—and we couldn’t agree more! In the coming year, with support from Centura, Project Angel Heart will provide more than 390,000 meals to more than 2,400 Coloradans facing the dual challenge of food insecurity and a severe illness diagnosis, giving them time to rest and recover, and allowing them to live independently at home.
- Manna – The Durango Soup Kitchen is actively committed to creating a more equitable and just food system by serving nearly 90,000 meals per year to the Durango community. With their grant, Manna will provide local and regional culturally and nutritionally significant produce, proteins, and groceries to distribute to those in need. Program participants identified foods that are culturally relevant and nutritionally appropriate which will expand access to those in need and help to improve health disparities by distributing balanced, healthy foods year-round.
- Project Protect Promotora Network combats malnutrition by partnering with food banks to distribute fresh, healthy food directly to agricultural worker housing sites or community events. Team members of the Project Protect Promotora Network also purchase culturally relevant items from grocery stores to deliver to the agricultural worker families who power Colorado's food system. Protect Promotora Network reduces food insecurity in agricultural worker communities of the San Luis Valley and Southeast Colorado by providing critically needed food services paired with COVID-19 education to mitigate the threat of the pandemic while addressing long-term economic oppression and malnutrition of agricultural workers.
- Urban Symbiosis is committed to building a fair ecosystem and food system that cultivates long-lasting community relationships and provides resources, events, and locally grown food to the Aurora community. The grant from Centura assisted Urban Symbiosis to launch its community objectives for this year and beyond, including the building and establishment of two new BIPOC Backyard Urban Farms businesses in 2022/23 which will be in Northwest and Central Aurora. These new farms will be added to their growing food network and will be a much-needed addition to help bring food security to Aurora neighborhoods located in food deserts.
For more information about how you can make an impact in your community or for resources if you are suffering from food insecurity, please visit hungerfreecolorado.org.