One in six Michiganders will need help putting food on the table this year, and Health Alliance Plan (HAP), a Michigan-based nonprofit health plan, is donating $100,000 to Henry’s Groceries for Health to provide food and promote nutrition. Henry’s Groceries, a collaboration between Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) and Gleaners Community Food Bank, is designed to mitigate food insecurity and improve health outcomes for vulnerable patients.
“Health insurers are often in a position to have a significant impact on social determinants of health – which have only been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic,” said Michael Genord, MD, president and CEO, HAP. “Anytime we get an opportunity to participate in a program that addresses food insecurity and aims to reduce the risk of chronic disease, like Henry’s Groceries for Health, we make significant progress toward our ultimate goal of improving overall health outcomes across the State of Michigan.”
Food insecurity is defined as a condition of limited or uncertain access to nutritious food that causes disrupted eating patterns and/or reduced food intake. Adults experiencing food insecurity are at greater risk of developing chronic diseases or being unable to manage existing, chronic conditions effectively. Food insecurity can contribute to increased hospital admissions, hospital readmissions, emergency department visits and additional medical treatments.
In 2017, HFHS’s Population Health Management department initiated Henry’s Groceries for Health to address food insecurity in Southeast Michigan and especially Detroit, where 30,000 people live without consistent, convenient access to grocery stores. An astonishing 48% of the city’s population is food insecure. In its first 18 months, Henry’s Groceries served over 300 food insecure patients. HAP’s $100,000 donation will support procurement and provision of food boxes.
In addition to its donation, HAP will also help HFHS determine the effectiveness of the program by using their resources to measure patient utilization, biometric health improvement, body mass index and other key health measures.
“We’re very grateful to HAP as both a research partner and financial supporter,” said Alexander Plum, director of clinical and social health integration, HFHS. “Together, we’re helping to reduce barriers to care; improve patient nutrition and keep costs contained, which are outcomes that both insurers, like HAP, and health-care providers, like Henry Ford, strive to achieve.”
HAP’s participation in Henry’s Groceries is just the latest example of its commitment to improving public health outcomes amid the COVID pandemic and beyond by addressing food insecurity. During April and May, HAP worked with its technology partners to identify HAP members who were most at risk for experiencing negative effects of loneliness and isolation, including food insecurity and behavioral health issues. HAP then conducted more than 9,000 calls that helped connect members to mental and physical health support, food services and more. For members lacking access to nutritious meals, HAP expanded its partnership with Mom’s Meals to have two weeks’ worth of frozen, ready-to-heat balanced meals delivered to their home. This added up to two meals a day for 14 days.
To learn more about the ways that HAP supports our community, visit HAP.org.