CRESCENTCARE RECEIVES COMMUNITY GRANT FOR FOOD FOR FRIENDS PROGRAM
PROGRAM TO PROVIDE MEALS FOR HOMEBOUND INDIVIDUALS DIAGNOSED WITH HIV/AIDS OR CANCER
Baton Rouge, La – CrescentCare, a New Orleans-based Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), received a $15,000 Community Health Grant from Louisiana Healthcare Connections to support its Food for Friends program, which provides a food pantry and home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS or cancer.
The objective of CrescentCare’s program is to provide healthy, nutritious foods to at-risk individuals and families who have no other source of food. The grant funding will enable CrescentCare to purchase fresh produce and other healthy items for distribution through the food pantry, and to help support the implementation of a cooking educational program to teach recipients how to prepare healthy meals using both fresh foods and non-perishable items.
CrescentCare is committed to expanding the reach of the Food for Friends program into the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, an area still working to recover from the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, says Reginald Vicks, COO.
“There are significant food deserts within the Lower Ninth Ward, leaving many residents there without immediate access to healthy foods,” says Vicks. “We want to make a difference there, and this grant from Louisiana Healthcare Connections helps us to plant that seed.”
The nutritional education component of the Food for Friends program is key to making a long-term difference in the health of recipients, Vicks explains.
“As part of that, we have a demonstration kitchen at one of our sites to teach people how to use canned goods to prepare healthy meals, and we conduct field trips to grocery stores to teach them how to read labels and how to make healthy decisions about the foods they purchase,” he says. “Good nutrition equates to better outcomes for people with HIV and chronic conditions.”
Addressing food insecurity as a social determinant of health became a top priority for CrescentCare in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which left New Orleans’ healthcare system decimated, notes Brandi C. Bowen, Program Director of the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council (NORAPC).
“The leadership of CrescentCare in recognizing how important it was to address these social determinants of health was phenomenal. They care about the whole person, and they take an innovative approach to getting support for these issues across the community,” says Bowen.
In addition to its Food for Friends program, the organization offers a literacy program for children, a breast cancer prevention and education program, women’s health services, primary and preventive care, pediatric care, and behavioral health services. CrescentCare is also at the forefront of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and education in New Orleans, where HIV/AIDS diagnoses are continuing to increase, says Bowen.
“Hunger is an issue that affects every community in our state, and it is one that negatively impacts the health of Louisiana’s families. We designed our health grants initiative to partner with and support organizations that share our commitment to reducing food insecurity in our communities,” says Graves. “CrescentCare’s approach to social determinants of health is comprehensive and focused on caring for the whole person with dignity and respect. We are proud to partner with them in their efforts to improve health outcomes in New Orleans.”