UnitedHealthcare has awarded nearly $200,000 in community grants to four organizations to address social determinants of health, including access to affordable housing and food.
“Healthy living goes beyond the doctor’s office, and our grants will enable local organizations to help people access food, affordable housing and social services to live healthier lives,” said Andrew Peterson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State of New Mexico. “A community-based approach to addressing social determinants of health is essential to achieving health equity and building healthier communities in New Mexico and across the country.”
The grant recipients include:
- Economic Council Helping Others, Inc. (ECHO)—$32,500 to provide emergency rental/mortgage assistance to 25-40 families for up to two months, and food nutrition boxes tailored to chronic conditions.
- ABQ FaithWorks Collaborative—$47,800 for housing assistance and eviction protection, and to sponsor a community advocate who will help people navigate community partners and managed care organizations.
- Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico—$91,285 to implement food assistance programs in two Southeast New Mexico public schools and to expand programs that support people managing nutrition-related chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
- Senior.One—$25,000 to empower seniors and their caregivers by providing free resources to help them access care navigation services in the areas of senior housing, in-home care, and community support services.
According to America’s Health Rankings, New Mexico reports the highest poverty rate among older adults in the nation at nearly 14%, with more than 30% of New Mexico residents over age 62 experiencing severe housing challenges, including lack of complete kitchen facilities, lack of plumbing facilities, overcrowding or cost burdens. More than 17% of households in New Mexico experienced severe housing problems in 2021, with American Indian communities impacted disproportionately at more than 29%. Additionally, nearly 13% of New Mexicans, and nearly 21% of New Mexico children, experienced food insecurity in 2021. Studies show food insecurity has broad effects on overall health, especially for children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions.
“Food banks, like ours, are intentionally and purposefully focusing on the impact of hunger on health with current and new programs,” said Katy Anderson, chief programs officer of Roadrunner Food Bank. “Thanks to donors like UnitedHealthcare, we can increase the availability of nutritious food to the communities we serve. One area this funding will assist with is through our Childhood Hunger Initiative, which provides our school partners access to a monthly mobile food distribution, where half of the food provided is fresh fruits and vegetables.”
These grants are part of several initiatives launched to address social determinants of health and improve community health. Additionally, UnitedHealth Group has invested nearly $800 million in affordable housing, resulting in the creation of nearly 19,000 homes for those struggling with housing insecurity. Since 2018, UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health grants have invested $40 million to expand access to care through partnerships with local communities in 29 states. Moreover, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation funds grants to help cover medical expenses for underserved children.
UnitedHealthcare serves more than 205,000 members enrolled in employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare and retirement plans in New Mexico, with a network of 41 hospitals, and over 11,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.5 million physicians and care professionals, and more than 6,700 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.