Supporting partners to address social drivers in Texas

UnitedHealthcare, is awarding $500,000 in Empowering Health grants to five community-based organizations in Texas to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $11.4 million through Empowering Health grants across 18 states and the District of Columbia. The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support local health promotion and health literacy efforts.

Grant recipients in Texas include:

  • Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley – $210,000 to purchase a refrigerated truck to implement a monthly Kids Produce Market that will give children in underserved communities and their families access to healthy food and provide healthy food distribution to public housing sites in rural communities.
  • El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank – $100,000 to support critical emergency food relief in response to COVID-19, by distributing urgently needed food, and providing home-delivered groceries and food to partner agencies.
  • CitySquare – $75,000 to expand the client-choice food pantry and food rescue programs for food insecure individuals in Dallas.
  • West Texas Food Bank – $75,000 to implement food insecurity screenings in local hospitals and clinics and provide food-insecure patients with healthy food, nutrition education materials and information about local resources for food assistance.
  • Mental Health America of Greater Houston – $40,000 to implement evidence-based mental health training programs and curriculum in school districts in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in response to increased behavioral health challenges for teachers and students related to COVID-19.

“Social and economic factors have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining good health,” said Don Langer, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas. “Through Empowering Health grants, we’re working with local organizations to provide Texans with greater access to essential resources in high-risk and high-need communities so they can live healthier lives.”

Good health encompasses more than simply visiting a doctor’s office. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs. And for so many, the global pandemic has caused additional social and economic challenges that continue to affect healthy behaviors and exacerbate health disparities.

Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has now invested more than $40 million in Empowering Health grants reaching more than 6 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 29 states.

UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare and Optum, and its affiliated companies, is committed to reducing health disparities and building healthier communities by supporting programs to improve access to care and address key determinants of health. In Texas this includes more than $20 million in contributions from 2018-2020 representing its businesses, foundations and employees.

Additionally, UnitedHealth Group has invested more than $500 million in affordable housing communities since 2011, partnered with food banks and meal-delivery services, and in 2019 joined with the American Medical Association to standardize how social determinants of health data is collected and used to create more holistic care plans.

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