Texas clinic expands services to help reduce food insecurity

Grants helps address food insecurity in Texas

Two years ago, Guadalupe Cavazos struggled with high cholesterol, thyroid issues and diabetes. Finding meals that were appropriate for her health conditions was often challenging. Then, when she lost her job, she struggled to afford nutritious food altogether. She was uninsured and needed help but wasn’t sure where to turn.

Her daughter brought her to Heal the City Free Clinic (HTCFC) in Amarillo, Texas, which serves people without insurance, like Guadalupe, and who may not qualify for other low-income health services. To her surprise, Guadalupe was also able to enroll in HTCFC’s food program, which provides weekly medically tailored meals with specific dietary needs.

“It helps people that just need the help, when they aren’t able to just go get it for themselves,” Guadalupe said, through a translator.

To help reach more people in the community — especially as the pandemic increased the need — HTCFC received a $150,000 UnitedHealthcare grant to expand the food program, helping to reduce or eliminate food insecurity for chronic care patients.

Food insecurity has been one of the biggest challenges for HTCFC’s patients during the pandemic, said Lisa Lloyd, the development director of Heal the City Free Clinic. With the help of community partners, HTCFC can provide medically tailored, nutritious meals to meet the needs of these patients, which include meats, vegetables, fruits and shelf-stable items.

In addition, HTCFC’s dedicated clinical team helps to direct patients to health education classes, nutritional consultations and medical referral services.

“We were elated to learn we had been selected as a recipient of the UnitedHealthcare grant because we knew the patients that had been identified as food insecure, would be able to receive the nutrition they very much needed,” Lisa said.

The organization expects to distribute more than 16,000 meals over the year to help improve the health of those they serve.

“It's helped me because most of the time, I do have to spend my time alone,” Guadalupe said. “The fact that that they're able to help me care for myself means a lot.”

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