As Houston residents face cost of living increases and social restraints, community members are pressed to make tough choices between basic living costs and healthful food. Some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the greater Houston area are in the central, north, east, and southwest sides of the city.
As part of its ongoing commitment to the Houston community and to help alleviate some of the stress for local families toward the end of the year, Humana recently donated $50,000 to local area food distribution organizations, including Target Hunger and the Houston Food Bank. These donations align with Humana’s work through the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute at the University of Houston to address social determinants of health, including the impact of food insecurity on community health outcomes
According to Feeding America, the national senior food insecurity rate was 7.7 percent in 2017. These rates are even higher in Texas and in the Houston metropolitan area – 10.5 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. Within some of Houston’s most underserved areas, food insecurity can be as high as 29 to 46 percent, leaving residents to either skip meals or supplement their grocery budgets with nutrient-low, unhealthy foods (Health of Houston Survey 2018). Food insecurity is proven to be detrimental to physical and mental health, especially for seniors and children.
At Target Hunger, 40 percent of the people it serves are seniors age 60 and above. Two of the areas served by Target Hunger (Kashmere Gardens and Eastex-Jensen) are among the 11 zip codes with the highest number and percentage of impoverished older adults within Harris County (A Spotlight in Aging, United Way of Greater Houston). Many of the seniors Target Hunger serves are also caring for a grandchild. As a result, these neighbors are often faced with the difficult choice between buying food and paying for other basic needs, such as housing, prescription medication, utilities and home repair; and of course, feeding the children in their care.
Humana’s donation to Target Hunger will support the non-profit’s efforts to assist low- and moderate-income seniors to overcome hunger and food insecurity, remain independent, and to age in place, continuing to live in their own homes for as long as possible.
Humana’s donation to the Houston Food Bank (HFB) will aid in the further development of the organization’s Food for Change program (FFC) and support growing its partnership with Harris Health, including expansion of two additional Food Farmacies at the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital and Acres Homes Health Center. In 2016, Food for Change (FFC) began as a strategy to extend beyond emergency food assistance for Houston residents to address the root causes and downstream effects of food insecurity. Since then, FFC has expanded the program with robust collaboration with many economic and healthcare partners.