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Partnership with WIC and SNAP Addresses Food Insecurity for Medicaid Patients

August 26, 2020

Update as of March 30, 2021: In late 2020, Denver Health utilized grant funding to hire a WIC and SNAP Enrollment Coordinator to help increase the number of eligible patients that successfully register for the food assistance programs. Participation in the federal nutrition assistance programs has been proven to improve food and economic security, improve multiple health and educational outcomes, and decrease health care costs. Additionally, participation in these programs early in life has been demonstrated to prevent cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and optimize neurodevelopment. The Enrollment Coordinator is responsible for working with representatives to evaluate the enrollment and patient experience and will make recommendations on policy changes to increase awareness of eligibility, efficiency of enrollment, and beneficiary satisfaction.

At Denver Health, we know that great health isn’t just the result of a doctor’s visit.

Because we never turn away anyone for care, we’re uniquely positioned to see patients from every walk of life during clinical visits, which provides us with a real opportunity to impact their lives outside of a medical setting.

It’s an astounding statistic that one in six families in Denver experience food insecurity, yet for those who are eligible for food assistance support through WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), less than half enroll in the program. Findings suggest that both perceived and actual barriers were the main factor affecting low enrollment. These were challenges that anyone could experience: lack of accurate knowledge around eligibility, a cumbersome enrollment process, and perceived and actual restrictions on the processing of applications.

To overcome this barrier to access, Denver Health Foundation worked with the ZOMA Foundation to provide funding for an Enrollment Coordinator who will actively work with WIC and SNAP representatives to analyze the patient experience and provide recommendations on improvements based on data collected.

Our main priority is ensuring Coloradoans have enough affordable and nutritious food. SNAP and WIC enrollment will also impact emotional development and academic achievement in children and young adults, and adult access to recovery resources. By installing an advocate focused on this vital issue of food insecurity in Denver, we will be positioned to understand and execute levers of change, now and in the future.

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