//Underserved Valdosta communities receive funding for healthcare

Underserved Valdosta communities receive funding for healthcare

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VALDOSTA – Barnes Healthcare Services partnered with Open Hand Atlanta to received $220K donation for underserved Valdosta Communities.


Barnes Healthcare Services, a complex healthcare provider offering chronic disease management programs, and partner Open Hand Atlanta received a portion of the Empowering Health grant of $220,000 from UnitedHealthcare. Barnes was one of six community-based organizations in Georgia awarded funding to help expand access to care for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

Barnes and partner Open Hand Atlanta were chosen to expand the program Cooking Matters for Healthcare Providers. The program provides medically-tailored meals and nutrition interventions for at-risk individuals. The grant will also support the Community Health Worker program, which provides healthy lifestyle intervention and connections to social determinants of health resources for underserved and uninsured individuals.

“Barnes is dedicated to community health and the new profession of community health workers,” said Lori Lacey, director of community pharmacy enhanced services. “Our partnership with Open Hand Atlanta enables us to help patients of low income and chronic disease status into a program that provides a six-week cooking class and hands-on education.”

The frequency of these courses is once a week for six weeks. During that time, program members receive free fresh fruits and vegetables each week. 

“Here in Valdosta, some patients’ health statuses will not allow them to attend cooking classes,” said Lacey. “This grant gives our team at Barnes the resources to identify patients that need medically-tailored meals and refer them to Open Hand Atlanta.”

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, approximately 80 percent of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused additional social and economic challenges that continue to affect health behaviors and exacerbate health disparities. 

UnitedHealthcare will donate a total of $11 million in grants through its Empowering Health program across 11 states. The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support local health promotion and health literacy efforts.