Access Community Health Network (ACCESS) recently announced that it has received a Healthy Kids Healthy Families Grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). These funds will support ACCESS’ Food for Health program. The purpose of the project is to screen ACCESS’ patients for food insecurity and to provide resources to those who are at risk of hunger.
ACCESS provides accessible, affordable health care to 180,000 patients annually at 36 sites across Cook and DuPage Counties.
“BCBSIL’s investment in ACCESS’ Food for Health initiative is helping ACCESS better integrate the medical and social safety nets in communities across metropolitan Chicago,” said Kathleen Gregory, ACCESS’ Vice President for Strategy and Business Development. “By asking patients if they face hunger, ACCESS has the opportunity to connect those who say ‘yes’ with food resources such as food pantries and SNAP benefits. This project embodies ACCESS’ commitment to the total health of the patients and communities we serve.”
As a community health organization, food insecurity impacts many of ACCESS’ patients. Their often modest financial resources can translate into lack of regular access to nutritious food. Related challenges include a lack of knowledge about available food resources and cultural factors, such as a stigma around admitting that food insecurity is a problem.
While entire families are affected, children are most vulnerable, because adequate nutrition is essential to their healthy growth and development. Food insecurity also affects the ability to control chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Community health centers, such as ACCESS, have significant experience addressing such sensitive subjects and linking patients to a wide variety of resources.
Each year, BCBSIL supports communities throughout the state with grants and sponsorships. In Illinois, grants are awarded to direct-service health and human service organizations with 501(c)3 status. Funding is dispersed through two separate funding streams: Community Partners Grant and Healthy Kids Healthy Families Grant.
“At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois we are committed to helping all of our Illinois communities,” said Clarita Santos, BCBSIL Senior Director of Community Health Initiatives. “We’re excited to partner with Access Community Health Network’s food insecurities program because we agree that providing access to health also means helping to provide healthy meals to those in need.”
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
With 8 million members,
BCBSIL, a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, is the largest health insurance company in Illinois. Begun in 1936 in Chicago, BCBSIL remains member owned rather than publicly traded, and is committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and its communities, fostering greater access to care, and working to lower the overall cost of care while improving the health care quality and patient outcomes.
About Access Community Health Network
Designated as a Level 3 patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), ACCESS offers patient-centered, preventive and primary care services to more than 180,000 patients annually. Through its investment in technology to further improve patient care and engagement, ACCESS has also been recognized by HIMSS at Stage 6 for its adoption of its electronic health record. With 36 Joint Commission-accredited community health centers located throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, ACCESS is also one of the largest networks of community health centers in the nation.
For more information, visit: www.achn.net.