BOSTON – January 6, 2016 – The Boston Public Health Commission today announced $100,000 in grant awards to four Boston community health centers. The funds will support health centers in implementing improvements to their systems and services that will enable them to better serve residents of Boston Housing Authority (BHA) developments.
“The people of Boston deserve the right to access affordable, quality healthcare,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “The community health centers provide those vital services to Boston residents, and these funds will enable them to stay ahead of the curve and continue developing innovative solutions to today’s pressing health challenges. I look forward to seeing the results of their efforts in bringing positive change to the community.”
The four health centers, Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury, the South End Community Health Center in the South End, Upham’s Corner Health Center in Dorchester, and Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center in Jamaica Plain, are anticipated to reach up to 27,000 public housing residents through the project.
“I am pleased to have another opportunity to support the innovative work that our city’s community health centers are doing to address the social factors that affect health,” said Huy Nguyen, MD, Interim Executive Director and Medical Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “If these strategies prove successful in improving outcomes around healthy eating and hunger, we will have a stronger argument to take them to scale.”
“These grants enable us to address some key factors that make our patients unhealthy,” said Tom Kieffer, Director of the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. “Living in poverty and not having access to healthy foods are some of the top challenges that they face.”
Each of the four community health centers has a record of collaboration with BHA and BHA tenant organizations. Through this project, they will continue their partnerships by targeting 23 developments, including family and elderly/disabled developments, with innovative strategies to address healthy eating and food insecurity. Each health center will choose among a set of strategies that could include:
- Improving clinical systems to identify patients experiencing food insecurity.
- Increasing access to healthy food through on-site community gardens, fresh food vendors, and other resources and referrals.
- Incorporating culturally specific healthy eating education and demonstration with food resources.
- Developing a video in which BHA residents share their strategies for healthy eating on limited budgets and with limited transportation options.
- Promoting leadership development for BHA residents at the health centers, including having BHA residents on Community and Youth Advisory Boards.
“Our goal is to empower our residents to make healthy choices,” said Bill McGonagle BHA Administrator. “We applaud the work of BPHC and our REACH partners who promote health and wellness to all of our residents.”
Residents of Boston Housing Authority have prioritized access to healthy and affordable food as an area for action. Public housing residents in Boston are 3.5 times more likely to be affected by obesity and related health conditions than non-public housing residents.
“I’m excited to see that community health centers including mine are addressing food disparities among public housing residents and others” said Julieta Lopez, president of the Lenox Camden Tenant Association and Community Outreach Advocate for the South End Community Health Center. “This effort will increase the availability of affordable, healthy groceries in neighborhoods such as the South End and Lower Roxbury and will engage health centers in helping patients to access these resources.”