UnitedHealthcare and the 4-H Youth Development Program at Alcorn State University are expanding their partnership to help fight hunger and food insecurity by promoting budgeting and nutrition education in underserved communities with the "4-H Food Smart Families" program.
UnitedHealthcare has donated $55,000 to Alcorn State University Extension, which administers 4-H programs throughout the state, to support the 4-H Food Smart Families program. The program empowers families with nutrition education, and cooking and food-budgeting skills to bring more affordable, nutritious foods into their households, and connects families with nutrition assistance through SNAP benefits.
The program was featured at Wilkins Elementary School in Jackson, where more than 200 4th and 5th graders joined 4-H'ers, community leaders and UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound in training sessions to learn more about food – how to buy it, use it and cook it, and make choices that enhance their health and well-being. 4-H youth participated in the 4-H Food Smart Shopping Experience, during which they were asked to shop and make choices based on budget, nutrition, price per unit and meal preparation.
"4-H and UnitedHealthcare are sharing best practices for healthy eating and smart budgeting choices that will help support families throughout our community," said Manola Erby, Alcorn State University 4-H Youth Development Specialist. "Through the 4-H Food Smart Families program, we are helping young people establish sustainable and healthy habits for their families."
Throughout Mississippi, the 4-H Food Smart Families program will engage 4-H teen leaders to serve as ambassadors and mentors to teach youth, peers, families and communities how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.
4-H Food Smart Families is expected to engage nearly 6,000 Mississippians, including more than 1,600 kids and 4,200 of their family members that are eligible for or receiving SNAP (food stamps) benefits. Goals include educating youth on the importance of eating more vegetables and fruit; drinking more water; choosing healthier snacks; eating breakfast; teaching their families how to buy and prepare healthier, affordable foods on a budget; and practicing food-safety principles for food preparation and preservation.
"UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting 4-H and the 4-H Food Smart Families program. We look forward to working together to achieve the goals of this program by providing a sustainable solution to childhood hunger," said Jocelyn Chisholm Carter, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi.
UnitedHealthcare employees will help organize and host many of the 4-H Food Smart Families events and help implement projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level. UnitedHealthcare's $55,000 grant is part of a $1 million program funded by UnitedHealthcare in 2015 to support youth healthy-living programs. In addition to Mississippi, other state 4-H programs receiving grants include Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, New York and Wisconsin. This partnership will provide 4-H'ers skills and resources to promote healthy choices to families in the communities that need it most.
UnitedHealthcare serves more than 580,000 people in Mississippi with a network of 101 hospitals and nearly 9,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.
Wilkins Elementary School student Caccosah (left) is joined by Dr. Health E. Hound and UnitedHealthcare representative Tonya Smith and fellow student Patryce during the Mississippi 4-H and UnitedHealthcare kick-off for the "4-H Food Smart Families" program to make healthy living a greater part of 4-H'ers everyday lives. At the event students and community leaders participated in multiple training sessions to learn about food – how to secure it, use it and cook it, and make choices that enhance their health and well-being. (Photo Credit: Amanda Patterson)
Valerie Wright with UnitedHealthcare speaks to a group of 4th and 5th graders from Wilkins Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi during the kick-off for the "4-H Food Smart Families" program to make healthy living a greater part of 4-H'ers everyday lives. Students at the event participate in multiple training sessions to learn about food – how to secure it, use it and cook it, and make choices that enhance their health and well-being (Photo Credit: Amanda Patterson)
4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA. The 4-H programs are implemented by the 111 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through their 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. Learn more about 4-H at www.4-h.org.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.