Food Insecurity & Childhood Asthma
Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) works with nonprofit, government, and community agencies to advance health and wellness throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties.
While this serves as our overarching mission, we are mindful of the fact that each of these counties—and the communities within them—face their own unique challenges. The types of healthcare issues that the poor, working poor, uninsured and underinsured, homeless, and children face are especially distinct in Imperial County—and have been a specific area of focus for several years.
The healthcare challenges in Imperial County are due to a culmination of unique circumstances that relate to environmental hazards, employment opportunities, a fairly unique demographic, and other socioeconomic indicators. Unlike San Diego County, Imperial County is largely rural, comprised of vast, sprawling communities with fairly spread-out populations. As a result, industry and employment opportunities are also limited, largely centering around agriculture and farming. In fact, Imperial County has a staggeringly high unemployment rate that hovers around 25 – 30%, compared to the 4.7% rate observed in San Diego county as of March 2016. Even for those who are gainfully employed, Imperial County maintains the lowest wages of any county in California.
But unemployment and underemployment are only the beginning. As reliance on community or government-funded clinics continues to increase, the homeless population also rises. Both the homeless population as well as the unemployed population are difficult to serve due to their spread-out locality.
Health issues are further compounded by the fact that Imperial County is said to have among the worst air quality in the entire country. Imperial County consistently falls below mandated federal air quality standards, resulting in the area having the highest rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations and emergency room visits of any county in Southern California. Organizations such as our grantee Comite Civico del Valle work to address this critical issue through the Air Quality Advocacy Program and Asthma Education, flagship programs which inform schools and communities of air quality and suggest alternative indoor activities for times when air quality is below a safe level. Asthma-related health complications, particularly in children, remain one of the top health concerns in Imperial County.
Food insecurity is an equally prevalent and pressing issue facing these communities. According to Feeding America, Imperial County has a food security rating of 27% for adults and an alarming 44% for children—the second worst food security rating in the nation. Due to poor nutritional profiles of the foods that are available, both diabetes and obesity are also widespread concerns. While organizations like AHF grantee Imperial Valley Food Bank are working to remedy these astounding issues, these particular problems put residents at an even greater risk for a poor health status.
Alliance Healthcare Foundation currently provides support to five grantees in Imperial County who are working to combat these pressing health-and-wellness-related issues:
- Cancer Resource Center of the Desert – Cancer Resource Center of the Desert (CRCD) is a community organization dedicated to providing a guiding hand and compassionate heart to cancer patients and their families through services that educate, guide, support, and empower the patient through the cancer journey.
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Imperial County’s initial mission statement was to advocate for abused/neglected children in the Juvenile Court process, addressing legal representation only. The original mission has been expanded to include advocating for the health, safety, and overall well-being for all our clients within the foster care system and in permanent placement.
- Imperial Valley Food Bank – Imperial Valley Food Bank works to ensure that all Imperial Valley residents have access to nutritious foods through food distribution and education to increase self-reliance and to improve the quality of life of residents.
- Neighborhood House of Calexico – Neighborhood House of Calexico brings together individuals and resources to provide leadership, to advocate for community betterment to meet the needs of the less fortunate, and to give a voice to individuals who otherwise remain invisible and silent.
- Imperial Valley Homeless Task Force – Imperial Valley Homeless Task Force engages individuals and organizations of Imperial Valley in a community-based process that works to eradicate homelessness in the region, addresses the underlying causes of homelessness, and lessens the negative impact of homelessness on individuals, families, and community.
Coming this month, we will host an iEngageU Listening & Funding Forum in Imperial County to hear more about areas of need that should be addressed. We want to create an open forum where all can feel free to discuss what is working well—and what isn’t—so we can continue to empower our grantees to make a difference.
Old Eucalyptus School House
May 25, 2016
9:30am – 10:00 am: Coffee & Check In
10:00am – 12:00pm: Forum
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch
We’ll look forward to seeing you there. If you aren’t able to attend, please post your ideas or input in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!
-Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director
Alliance Healthcare Foundation
About Alliance Healthcare Foundation
Alliance Healthcare Foundation is a San Diego-based nonprofit which works with nonprofit, government and community agencies to advance health and wellness throughout the San Diego and Imperial Counties. AHF works to serve the most vulnerable – the poor, working poor, children and homeless by providing grants, advocacy and education to support its region.
To learn more about our grantees, visit our Grantee Page.