GOSHEN – The Orange County Health Department has received a $50,000 grant as part of the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge which aims to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes.
The grant was provided by the Aetna Foundation in collaboration with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Orange County is one of 20 communities in the U.S. to receive the grant. The award is for two years ($50,000 per year) if the criteria is met for the first year.
Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman advised that the Health Department will utilize the funding to work with hospital and healthcare center partners to improve systems in the health care settings, identify and refer food insecure residents to food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, Senior Meal Programs (Office for the Aging), and other food resources in the community.
The grant funds will also provide “Rx for Produce” incentive coupons to hospitals and health centers, to be issued to food insecure residents for use at local farmers markets. Nutrition education (virtual) and recipes will be made available with the coupons to give residents information for easy meal ideas on a budget and healthy eating.
“We are excited to receive this additional funding to help families purchase healthy foods from our local farmers in Orange County,” Gelman said. “Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to know where your food comes from and make healthier food choices. We look forward to working with our community partners in utilizing this grant, which I know will benefit some of our most vulnerable residents.”
The Health Department will partner with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which will provide training on food insecurity screening and “Rx for Produce” programs. Team partners will also receive training on local Orange County Food programs, including SNAP, WIC, Senior Meals and other relevant community programs.
The Health Department will also work closely with Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall, Garnet Health, Cornerstone Family Health, St. Anthony Community Hospital, and House of Refuge Church. Team partners were selected to reach a wide number of Orange County residents in some of the County’s most vulnerable areas for chronic disease, including the cities of Middletown and Newburgh. St. Anthony Community Hospital was selected based on the high percentage of seniors in Warwick, as well as high risk residents who live in the rural areas it serves.
“According to studies, access to health care and healthy food can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “We are proud to receive this grant and to provide these vital resources to our community, which are even more important as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.”