Amerigroup funds allow the Houston Food Bank to continue and expand Texas’s first of its kind Food Rx program over the next three years, with two new service models being piloted in Houston and Baytown.
The Amerigroup Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Amerigroup Texas and affiliate of Elevance Health Foundation, has awarded a new, $450,000 grant to the Houston Food Bank to continue and expand a ‘Food Rx’ Food as Medicine program in parts of Houston and Baytown. This new grant will continue to help healthcare providers screen for food insecurity and connect their patients with resources via ‘food prescriptions,’ as well as increase the effectiveness of the program by introducing two new service models that more effectively connect people to resources.
“Amerigroup has been working with the Houston Food Bank since 2019 to identify and connect people who are facing food insecurity with healthy solutions that have a meaningful impact on improving overall health,” said Greg Thompson, President of Amerigroup Texas. “Together, along with partnering healthcare providers, we have played a key role in helping Texans overcome significant challenges to improve their lives, and as we launch this new phase of our collaboration, we look forward to expanding our reach and furthering our goal of building healthier, stronger communities.”
The Food as Medicine program is a Feeding America® initiative that was first launched in Texas by the Houston Food Bank, a member of the Feeding America network, with Amerigroup Foundation funding. It enables collaborating healthcare providers to screen patients for food insecurity, and to refer them to resources that address their unique needs. This program was the first of its kind in Texas to use ‘food prescriptions’ written by clinicians and fulfilled by a food bank. Since the program launch, the Houston Food Bank has used Amerigroup Foundation funds to secure nutritious food items to assemble healthy, culturally appropriate food boxes that are made available to patients of partnering physicians through the food bank’s ‘food pharmacy.’
There are currently 19 unique healthcare providers at 42 sites across the Greater Houston Area that participate in the Houston Food Bank’s Food as Medicine program. Amerigroup Foundation’s latest grant will help expand the program by allowing the food bank to pilot two new service models for Baytown and Houston area residents who are patients of the Harris Health System and San Jose Clinic. It will allow the healthcare providers to implement enhanced data collection, sharing and analysis to better understand the unique needs of patients facing food insecurity, so more effective solutions can be innovated. Funds will also help the food bank to pilot a home delivery model for patients who face transportation barriers.
“It is wonderful and rewarding to finally see a collective emphasis on providing food that is both nutritious and culturally relevant, along with nutrition education tailored to specific health conditions that will help improve a patient’s overall health outcomes and quality of life,” adds Sanders. “We are so appreciative of the support we have received from Amerigroup to continue and expand this work.”
The Houston Food Bank, a member of the Feeding America network, is one of 21 food banks to receive a grant this year from Elevance Health Foundation to fund a Food as Medicine program. Across the nation, the Foundation has committed to investing up to $30 million to support programs that address food insecurity by helping individuals reach optimal health through good nutrition. As of the beginning of 2023, nearly $23 million in Food as Medicine grants have been awarded. To learn more about the Foundation’s funding criteria, visit elevancehealth.foundation/for-grantseekers. To learn more about Houston Food Bank programs, visit houstonfoodbank.org/our-programs.