Everyday basics – simple things – often play the biggest role in keeping people healthy. But for an alarming number of Texas families, putting enough good food on the table is not a simple matter.
That’s why Amerigroup Texas is taking aim at food scarcity in rural markets and areas underserved by health care. We’re bringing people and organizations together to help families get the nourishing meals that do so much to improve health and provide needed stability.
Through our Food Is Medicine program, Amerigroup works with health care agencies, clinics, food banks, and others across the community to get food to families that need it. In Lubbock, we facilitated a partnership between the Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic and the South Plains Food Bank to open a food pantry at the clinic, send food home with families who need it, and provide vouchers for the food bank.
“We’re being a lot more intentional in making sure families are aware of what’s available to them. Every family that walks through the door here at Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic is asked, is this a need that you have to have?” said clinic executive director Nedra Hotchkins. “The end goal was, how we help families in our community when they are food insecure? How do we be a resource when we all come from different places and we all have different means?”
Solving food scarcity is a high priority for Amerigroup because of the pervasiveness of the problem and the health consequences stemming from lack of food and nutrients.
Data suggest more than four million Texans, and one in five children, live in hunger. Feeding Texas estimates 1.4 million households in the state lack access to proper food, with that problem concentrated among people of color.
“Over 25 percent of Texans live in a rural market or in a health care-underserved market,” said Greg Thompson, President and CEO of Amerigroup Texas. “In many of those markets, healthy food is hard to come by.”
The health effects of nutrition are far-reaching. A poor diet can help worsen anemia, aggression, and anxiety, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We want to be able to say there’s not a need for some of these access issues to food insecurity,” said Emie Young, director of Medicaid plan marketing for Amerigroup. “But until then, Amerigroup is going to continue our relationship with food banks across Texas to help get food into our families’ homes.”