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HealthEast Foundation funds launch of programs to improve healthy food and mental health resources on St. Paul's East Side

ST. PAUL, MN--(Marketwired - January 05, 2017) - The launch of two new pilot programs to support healthy eating and mental well-being on St. Paul's East Side are being fully funded by the HealthEast Foundation. The programs -- East Side Table and the East Side Mental Health & Stress Resilience Partnership -- will launch in 2017.

The pilot programs were co-designed by 17 community organizations and HealthEast. The $691,184 start-up grant represents the first time the HealthEast Foundation has targeted major funding for community-building programs. It is expected to serve as a model for future grants from other organizations to sustain the programs. The funding source was the HealthEast Foundation's Community Innovation Fund, which comprises investment earnings set aside for community health and well-being innovation partnership work.

"At HealthEast, we have been learning how a great deal of what affects health and well-being happens outside the walls of our hospitals and clinics," said HealthEast CEO Kathryn Correia. "We are grateful for the chance to learn from and partner with more than a dozen organizations on the East Side of St. Paul to co-create local, culturally responsive approaches to support community members to improve their own physical and mental health and resilience."

The East Side has a strong civic community, yet has significant concentrations of poverty, medically underserved areas and food deserts. About a quarter of East Side residents are new Americans, including many refugees and immigrants from Southeast Asia, Latin America and Somalia. Thirty-eight percent of residents speak a primary language other than English.

East Side Mental Health & Stress Resilience Partnership
The East Side Mental Health & Stress Resilience Partnership's goal is to connect East Side residents with holistic and culturally responsive mental health and stress resilience resources. The Partnership will:

  • Map culturally-based services
  • Hire three cultural brokers to serve as bilingual, bicultural liaisons to connect members of the community with identified and mapped resources
  • Develop or provide programming at identified safe and sacred spaces to build community and provide respite
  • Facilitate community conversations to deepen understanding and break stigmas
  • Train service providers to be cognizant of cultural norms related to mental well-being

"HealthEast recognizes that health is more than just curing an illness," said Mauricio Cifuentes, partnership collaborator and senior division director of health and well-being for CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio).

East Side Table
The East Side Table's goal is to increase consumption of healthy foods by improving the skills needed to overcome barriers the community identified to cooking healthy meals at home: time, motivation and expense. East Side Table will offer:

  • Make-at-home meal kits featuring culturally specific recipes and locally procured ingredients
  • Grocery coupons for healthy food items at East Side stores and small businesses
  • Cooking demonstrations and tastings at community events such as Fiesta Latina and the Dragon Boat Races on Lake Phalen
  • Community meals to promote social connectedness.

"All of the organizations that developed the East Side Table concept brought different skills and experience -- from running food shelves or youth programs to delivering hot meals to the elderly or working on food policy change," said Ann Majerus, East Side Table collaborator and a community paramedic with the St. Paul Fire Department. "We worked hard to come up with something that didn't duplicate existing services: encouraging people to cook whole, fresh foods in their kitchens."

Diane Tran, HealthEast's system director of Neighborhood Integration and Community Engagement, said: "In collaboration with our partners, HealthEast can play a bridging role to help leverage health system and community assets to improve health and well-being at the local level. We have high hopes that these innovative, community-generated approaches to addressing health equity can make a meaningful difference in the lives of many of our neighbors."

The East Side Health & Well-being Collaborative, convened by HealthEast, includes a number of community organizations that are active on St. Paul's East Side and worked with HealthEast to co-design the East Side Mental Health & Stress Resilience Partnership and East Side Table programs. The partner organizations involved with the co-design are: American Indian Family Center, Arlington Hills Lutheran Church, City of St. Paul Fire Department, CLUES, Community Dental Care, Dayton's Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary, East Side Seniors, First Lutheran Church, Golden Harvest Market, Hmong American Partnership, Karen Organization of Minnesota, Kofi Services, Merrick Community Services, Neighborhood House, The Sanneh Foundation, Shobi's Table, Urban Oasis and Urban Roots.

About HealthEast
HealthEast (healtheast.org) is the leading health care provider in the Twin Cities' East Metro area. From prevention to cure, we meet the needs of the community with family health and specialty programs that span four hospitals -- Bethesda Hospital, St. John's Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital and Woodwinds Health Campus -- plus 14 clinics, home care and medical transportation. HealthEast has nearly 7,500 employees and nearly 850 physicians on staff. Our focus is optimal health and well-being for our patients, our communities and ourselves.

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