OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente, one of the country's largest not-for-profit health care organizations, funded more than 780 grants nationwide, totaling approximately $54 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Grants awarded to organizations included funding for programs in California to provide healthy and nutritious food to underserved communities in this challenging economy, and college scholarships to students in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to pursue careers in health care. Kaiser Permanente funded $89 million in grants and donations in 2010.
"We are delighted to make the kinds of contributions in our communities that improve the social determinants of health such as access to healthy food, safe neighborhoods and healthy environments where people can be physically active," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy, Kaiser Permanente. "At Kaiser Permanente, we are committed to working with our community partners to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our community members."
Kaiser Permanente's contributions paid in the fourth quarter of 2010 included, but were not limited to, the following grants:
Food Banks Providing Healthy Food
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger received the first installment of a $618,010 Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit grant allocated for 30 months to the organization's Healthy Options, Healthy Meals program. Healthy Options, Healthy Meals is a two-and-a-half year initiative that aims to strengthen the capacity of food banks across Kaiser Permanente's eight regions to achieve healthier food options for those served by emergency food programs.
Focusing on the link between food insecurity and obesity, the food bank participants will come together to share challenges and best practices for providing healthy nutritious food to recipients in their communities. At a meeting to launch the program in Los Angeles at the end of January, the organization hosted 12 food banks from across the Kaiser Permanente regions that have been invited to participate in the national program.
"Our nation's food banks are taking steps to improve the nutritional quality of the food they are distributing," said Marla Feldman, program director, MAZON, "but the process of integrating nutrition and healthy food access into our anti-hunger work requires organizations to broaden the scope of their programs and practices."
Healthy Eating in Hard Times
California Food Policy Advocates of Oakland received $325,000 to improve access to food stamp programs and increase participation in school meal initiatives.
Despite the high levels of need for emergency food in California, the state has one of the lowest food stamp participation rates in the country. With the Kaiser Permanente funding, California Food Policy Advocates plans to assist individuals and the state in accessing the available support.
California Food Policy Advocates programs include:
- Improving the Food Stamp process by working closely with county agencies to reduce barriers to access for both new applicants and continuing recipients
- Improving child nutrition by providing technical assistance to school districts to redesign school cafeteria meals in accordance with current Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board standards
- Increasing the classroom breakfast participation rate, which can provide healthy school breakfasts to more than two million children
- Improving the childcare environment by training childcare workers on the critical role that nutrition and physical activity play in obesity prevention
Access for Underserved Populations in Partnership with the Safety Net
As part of its ongoing commitment to increasing access to health care, Kaiser Permanente in Northern California continued its longtime support and partnership with La Clinica De La Raza. The $450,000 in support from Kaiser Permanente will help La Clinica establish a new primary care clinic for under- and uninsured residents living in the far-reaching areas of East Contra Costa County. Of that support, $300,000 will be provided over the next three years—at the end of which La Clinica expects its new clinic to provide a medical home for almost 7,500 people.
Particularly in the wake of the economic downturn, La Clinica's place in the community as a medical home for many of the Bay Area's uninsured and working poor is reinforced every day. The organization serves as the safety net for thousands of adults, families and children who otherwise would not have access to affordable and quality health care. Currently, La Clinica supports 25 clinic sites throughout San Lorenzo, Oakland, Vallejo, Pittsburg and Pleasant Hill/Concord. Of more than 61,000 patients served, 98 percent fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, and 93 percent are either uninsured or covered by public health insurance.
Educating Health Care Professionals
Kaiser Permanente awarded $1 million in funding to five community colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region to help address the critical need for qualified health professionals, such as laboratory technicians and nurses. The scholarship program will bring hundreds of front-line health care professionals into the workforce.
Kaiser Permanente awarded $200,000 grants to Baltimore City Community College, Montgomery College, Northern Virginia Community College, Prince George's Community College and the Community College of the District of Columbia. Each institution will allocate scholarship funds to educate low-income nursing and allied health students. An estimated 550 students will benefit from the scholarships. The $1 million scholarship program will bring hundreds of front-line health care professionals into the workforce.
The $89 million in grants and donations are part of Kaiser Permanente's $1.8 billion community benefit investment in 2010. The additional $1.7 billion supported a wide-range of community benefit programs including charitable care and coverage programs, research, Educational Theater Program, and training for health care workers. These community benefit programs are a part of Kaiser Permanente's ongoing commitment to improve the health and well-being of the communities in which it serves. Additional information about Kaiser Permanente's Community Benefit grants and additional programs can be found at www.kp.org/communitybenefit.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente