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Grants to Help Underserved Communities in PA

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Food banks are critical community resources for families dealing with job losses during the pandemic. (astrosystem/Adobe Stock)
Food banks are critical community resources for families dealing with job losses during the pandemic. (astrosystem/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
July 10, 2020

PHILADELPHIA - Three community-based organizations have received major grants to help underserved Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 crisis.

Funded by UnitedHealthCare, the Empowering Health grants total more than $200,000. They were given to Philabundance - a hunger relief program in Philadelphia - the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and the Preeclampsia Foundation - that's getting blood pressure cuffs to home-bound, pregnant women and new mothers for telehealth visits.

According to Corey Coleman, vice president of Community and Strategic Partnerships at UHC, the goal is to help uninsured individuals and communities at risk lead healthier lives.

"Helping them get more access to health care," says Coleman. "Helping them get more access to fresh foods and fresh vegetables, and additional services that they may need in their communities."

He adds that challenges from social distancing, food insecurity and social isolation are among the most urgent problems facing underserved communities during the COVID pandemic.

The grants are intended to address what Coleman calls the social determinants of health for these communities, including barriers that often prevent access to health and health care.

"Barriers that could include things like the ability to access public transportation, or the ability to access your hospital system," says Coleman, "not being able to get access to fresh food and fresh groceries."

Coleman notes that the economic impact of the COVID pandemic has made food banks in particular critical resources for the populations they serve.

"A number of individuals in Pennsylvania have been negatively impacted in terms of losing their jobs," says Coleman. "And these are organizations that are serving as a safety net for vulnerable families who don't have access to food."

Empowering Health grants totaling more than 12-million-dollars were announced this month in 21 states across the country.

Disclosure: United Healthcare - New York and Northern Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Mental Health, Philanthropy. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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