Partners for Healthy Food Access Program
Applications are currently being accepted from Merced, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
Do you have a project idea that you’d like to inquire about to see if it is a good fit for the Partners for Healthy Food Access Program? Contact [email protected].
The Partners for Healthy Food Access Program aims to improve member health and nutritious food security in the Medi-Cal population in Merced, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties through multi-sector partnerships implementing community-based nutritious and medically supportive food projects.
Benefit expansions, provider payment augmentation and other services managed by the health plan (e.g., medically tailored meals through the Department of Health Care Services' CalAIM Community Supports initiative) are addressed via the health plan’s operating budget and not addressed through the Partners for Healthy Food Access program.
- Increase Medi-Cal member access to nutritious, medically supportive food.
- Engage Medi-Cal members to manage their own health to reduce preventable illness, chronic disease and hospital readmissions.
- Strengthen community-based partnerships to support Medi-Cal members in incorporating nutritious food into their daily life.
- When facing a serious illness, being well-nourished is critical. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, food insecurity is one of the top ten causes for costly hospital readmissions.
- Health care costs are at an all-time high, with diet-related diseases being a heavy contributor to the cause. Two out of three adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease, which is usually preventable.
- Medically supportive food programs have been shown to improve blood pressure, reduce hemoglobin A1C levels in individuals with diabetes, reduce BMI, decrease food insecurity and improve overall health.
- Health care providers may refer patients to a food prescription, a model for medical treatment or preventative service for patients that are experiencing diet-related health risks or conditions, food insecurity or other documented challenges to accessing nutritious foods. Food prescriptions can improve health outcomes and increase patient engagement in self-managing health.
- Many chronic conditions and related health care spending are largely preventable with proper nutrition.
- The health care sector has the responsibility to identify patients who could benefit from a “food prescription” for nutritious, medically supportive food, as well as connection with the right resources.
- Health care settings are uniquely positioned as places where Medi-Cal members facing food insecurity and chronic conditions can be identified and provided access to medically supportive nutrition.
- The Department of Health Care Services’ (DHCS) CalAIM initiative provides an opportunity to address medically supportive food through Community Supports (e.g., medically tailored meals). While this is a large effort with broad reach, it does not necessarily address the needs of all Medi-Cal members and their families.
- Grant funding through the Partners for Healthy Food Access Program can support the development of local, innovative and culturally responsive food prescription projects that have a high impact on member engagement.
- The Harvard Wellness Study (2010) reported that every $1 spent on healthy food reduces health care and economic costs by $3.27.
- Better physical and economic access to healthy food and intensive interventions increase the likelihood that Medi-Cal members will eat healthier, maintain healthier weight and have positive health outcomes.
Grants can be used to support costs associated with the implementation of nutritious, medically supportive food prescription projects that directly serve the Medi-Cal population and support the Partners for Healthy Food Access Program funding goals. Funding is not intended for emergency food distribution only.
This funding opportunity requires:
- Multi-sector partnerships (e.g., health care, community-based organizations, government agencies, civic organizations, businesses) with specific, relevant roles for each partner.
- An integral role for one or more health care partner(s) in screening Medi-Cal members for food insecurity and one or more chronic disease(s) and providing referrals for members (i.e., food prescriptions) to participate in the project.
- Distribution of nutritious, medically supportive food on a regular basis or a determined period of time.
- A behavioral, nutrition education and/or healthy cooking component.
- Engagement of Medi-Cal members in developing a culturally appropriate food prescription project that will meet their needs.
Examples of strategies that could meet program requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Utilizing technology to integrate chronic condition and food insecurity screening, outcome monitoring and/or referral utilization tracking into clinical workflows;
- Making nutritious food accessible to members through farmers market vouchers/engagement or third-party vendor/partner for distribution of nutritious food and educational/resource materials;
- Linking members to supportive services for healthy food access, such as CalFresh enrollment; and/or
- Building Medi-Cal member knowledge and skills to have a healthy diet (e.g., nutrition education, shopping for and preparing healthy food).
Applicants must meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the Medi-Cal Capacity Grant Program (see Eligibility Guidelines) and the following:
- Applicants must be a contracted Alliance provider or 501(c)(3) nonprofit or governmental entity that provides services to a significant volume of Medi-Cal members in the Alliance service area.
- Additional types of partners not listed above may be involved in the project but cannot serve as the applicant (businesses, for-profit housing developments).
- An applicant is limited to Partners for Healthy Food Access Program funding for one project at a time, which may be implemented at more than one site.
- Grant funding may be awarded for continuation/expansion of successful previously funded projects that use a food prescription model.
- One organization must serve as the applicant/grantee organization.
- Serving as the applicant for one project would not prohibit an entity from also serving as a partner on another Partners for Healthy Food Access-funded project.
- Applicants who demonstrate a commitment to linguistic and cultural competence will strengthen their grant application.
- Applicants who include evaluation of member health outcomes in their project will strengthen their grant application (e.g., hemoglobin A1C for diabetes-focused program, blood pressure, BMI, hospital admissions, etc.).
The Alliance will consider funding projects up to $200,000 per grant. Project timelines should be no more than 24 months. Project timelines are defined as the date the project scope of work begins (after grant award date) to the date of project completion. Funding will be considered for expansion of projects already in progress; however, activities completed or costs incurred prior to approval of the grant request by the Alliance will not be considered. A project budget may contain costs for more than one site.
Examples of eligible expenses include:
- Personnel expenses (salary and benefits) for one or more Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) with direct responsibilities for the project.
- Consultants and vendor costs for project start-up and/or implementation of project.
- One-time purchase of equipment dedicated to project implementation.
- One-time cost to develop reporting and/or electronic health records (EHR) templates to capture data related to food insecurity screening and patient health outcomes being evaluated.
- Cost of nutritious food and distribution.
- Program costs for interventions (gas, materials, etc.).
- Indirect costs up to 15% are eligible and may be included in project budget.
Visit How to Apply for deadlines, instructions and online application form.
Applications require submission of financial statements, including audited financial statements for the last two fiscal years and an organizational profit and loss statement and balance sheet for the last 12 months. If audited financial statements are not available, applicant should provide a rationale for not performing an annual audit and upload their company or organization’s most recent tax return or Form 990.