Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), Good Measures, LLC, Tufts Health Plan and the Institute for Community Health partnered and are the recipients of a $250,000 grant award from the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to distribute food to families in need. The award is part of a larger program through the Office of the Attorney General that will fund 13 community-based healthcare partnerships focused on addressing health equity. The partners are focused on addressing the social determinants of health, or the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play and age that impact a wide range of health outcomes. Most of what keeps people healthy are circumstances outside of medical care – insufficient or poor quality food, housing, utilities, employment and education.
The partnership will operate a GBFB-sponsored free monthly Mobile Market in Revere at CHA and organize regular health fairs to provide health screenings, vaccinations, information on social services, and assistance with enrollment in community programs, along with evaluating the impact of improving access to healthy produce on health and well-being.
According to GBFB, one in 10 people in Massachusetts struggles with food insecurity, meaning that they are without access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, healthy food. Children are hit especially hard from hunger. One in eight children is food insecure in Massachusetts while more than 16 million children across the country lack adequate access to food. According to a recent report, the health-related cost of hunger in Massachusetts amounts to $2.4 billion annually.
Last March, at the CHA Revere Care Center, the partnership launched a Mobile Market that distributes fresh fruit and vegetables monthly to families living in Revere and the surrounding area. The market provides 25-30 pounds of produce per household. Between March and July 2018, more than 18,000 pounds of produce was distributed to 424 CHA patients and another 292 community members. The grant award will support the market for the next three years and incorporate a research component supported by the Institute for Community Health.
As part of the MassHealth Accountable Care Organization transformation, last summer CHA launched a program to screen for food insecurity and other needs in order to connect people to resources. CHA patient resource coordinators reach out to patients who seek help and connect them to additional food resources in the community. For additional information, contact CHA’s Community Health Improvement Department at 617-806-8775.