Healthy Hubs – Partnering with Organizations to Increase Health Outcomes

Data shows us that food insecurity and health go hand in hand. Food-insecure individuals are more likely to experience colds, stomach aches and migraines and suffer from generally poorer health than food secure individuals. In 2014, Feeding America conducted the Hunger in America study and found some staggering statistics  about New Mexico’s pantry clients:

  • Nearly half (46%) report being in poor or fair health;
  • 59% report choosing between paying for medicine or medical care or buying food at least once in the past 12 months;
  • 44% of hungry households said they have medical bills to pay, and;
  • 75% report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food as the most common way to have at least some food at home to eat.

As a food bank , we are focused on addressing Health and Wellness and leading in the national trend of food banks partnering with health organizations. We were pleased to share some of our Health and Wellness Initiatives with the Beyond Flexner Conference.  The conference brought a group of medical students, educators, and physicians together  to discuss social determinants of health.

Our CEO, Melody Wattenbarger, showcased the warehouse and helped lay the groundwork for the afternoon, discussing how the food bank works as a clearinghouse and the distribution models we utilize.  Our partners at UNM  Medical Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico discussed our Healthy Hubs, highlighting the Pajarito Mesa and East San Jose Elementary.

Pajarito Mesa features a monthly Mobile Food Pantry distribution at the community center. Residents of Pajarito Mesa may not have access to running water; there are no public roads, or electricity.  We are not sure of the number of residents on the mesa, but it has been estimated at 1,500.

Blue Cross Blue Shield sends their Care Van to almost every distribution and UNM Medical Group staffs the van to provide open clinic hours. Doctors are able to perform assessments, discuss health concerns, and provide referrals to other clinics. Many clients have said that without the care van, they would not have access to health care.

East San Jose Elementary school has a similar arrangement. The school is an awardee of RRFB’s Childhood Hunger Initiative (CHI)  grant, which provides 100 families with  food each month in an open-air market distribution. The school has identified volunteers as champions, to work, and  to coordinate their healthy hub activities.  Each month the school focuses on a different theme and provides onsite services around the theme. Services include immunizations, dental resources and information, SNAP application assistance and other public health or social services. Each distribution includes 2–4 activities which can be conducted while clients are waiting in line or after they have received their food.

Healthy hubs have proven successful in delivering health services where clients are – in the food lines. We are pleased to showcase our partnerships with providers across the nation.

If you would like more information about any of the initiatives mentioned, please contact Community Programs Manager Tabatha Bennett at




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *