IDAHO — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people across the nation and here in Idaho are feeling the financial strain. That includes a rise in food insecurity. Feeding America reports that in Idaho, food insecurity could increase by 16.2 percent or 93,800 people.
In light of that statistic, the American Heart Association is teaming up with Terry Reilly Health Services for its new Fresh Start to Healthy Hearts program. Funded by Albertsons's Nourishing Neighbors program and the Julius C. Jeker Foundation, eligible patients can receive a $15 voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Rae Krick, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Terry Reilly, says it's just one more way they've been trying to help people get through the pandemic.
"If a patient is to screen as food insecure at one of our clinics, they're typically referred to myself or one of our Patient Navigators at what point we're giving them some resources," explains Krick.
Those resources include information about The Idaho Foodbank and other food pantries, ongoing food distributions, or affordable grocery shopping but can now possibly include the Fresh Start vouchers.
For now, the group is focusing their efforts at the Nampa, Caldwell, and Homedale Terry Reilly clinics, aiming to reach 1,000 families in the coming months.
"They come into the clinic for their regularly scheduled healthcare visit, and then when they are screened for food insecurity, again, they're typically referred to myself as the dietitian or one of our Patient Navigators, and then we kind of go through the process of giving them these vouchers and setting up what their process may be with us at the clinic," say Krick.
The program is being offered to current Terry Reilly patients, prioritizing families with children in the home. Eligible patients can receive up to three vouchers over three months.
To find out if you're eligible, you can contact Krick directly at (208) 466-7869, ext. 1294.