Wholesome Wave Receives Generous Kaiser Permanente Grant to Bring Healthy Food to More Underserved Communities

Kaiser Permanente Employees Raise $600,000 for Healthy Eating Programs in Underserved Communities

Wholesome Wave will expand farmers’ market programs to eight new locations nationwide.

Bridgeport, Conn. Wholesome Wave, a Connecticut-based, national nonprofit organization dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods across America by increasing access to and affordability of healthy, fresh locally grown food, announced today that it has received a $600,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente.  The funding will be used primarily to support its Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP), which provides fresh food incentives to encourage low-income consumers to increase their purchase of nutritious produce through local farmers markets.

Wholesome Wave plans to initially expand the DVCP to a minimum of four new states nationwide. The program enables households that use federally funded Food Stamp or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) coupons to double the value of their grocery coupons when purchasing fresh produce at a farmers market. The Wholesome Wave program is in place at 160 farmers markets in 20 states nationwide.

Funding for the grant is a result of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente’s employee wellness program, Healthy Workforce, through which the nonprofit organization contributed $50 for each employee who took a health risk assessment. Almost 23,000 Kaiser Permanente employees participated in the program. The organization raised $1.2 million overall, which is being distributed to Wholesome Wave and the Washington D.C.-based National Assembly for School-Based Health Care.

“We at Wholesome Wave are so grateful for Kaiser Permanente’s support, which is allowing us to take these next, vitally important steps towards increasing the accessibility of nutritious foods throughout America’s food-insecure communities,” said Michel Nischan, president and founder, Wholesome Wave. “Wholesome Wave and Kaiser Permanente have a shared mission of building a healthier future, and this generous partnership will allow Wholesome Wave to nourish neighborhoods across America.”

The grant also will enable Wholesome Wave to plan for an expansion of its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx).  This program aims to bridge the gap between physicians providing advice in the clinical setting and changing individual behavior by providing “prescription coupons” that can be redeemed at the patient’s local farmers market.

“Access to healthy food is powerful prevention, and that’s what Wholesome Wave is all about” said Loel Solomon, Ph.D., vice president for community health, Kaiser Permanente. “This partnership makes so much sense because we have such closely aligned values and aspirations.  We both believe that everyone deserves access to healthy, affordable and sustainably grown food and we both know how important that is for people’s health, and the health of our planet.”

Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s leading health care organizations, with 36 hospitals and 8.7 million members nationwide. Through Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating/Active Living initiative, the organization works to bring healthy food to the communities it serves, with a particular focus on underserved communities with health disparities. These efforts include working with community groups and store owners to bring healthy food into corner stores, and partnering with schools, city parks and other organizations to offer healthier foods to young people and their families. The first health care organization to hold farmers markets at its hospitals, Kaiser Permanente now hosts 40 markets at facilities in four states.

Wholesome Wave’s programming generated more than $1 million in sales at farmers markets through their incentives in 2010, which directly impacted income of more than 1,700 local farmers and more than 700 local product makers throughout the United States.

About Wholesome Wave

The mission of Wholesome Wave is to empower communities to make better food choices. By creating partnership-based programs in historically excluded urban and rural communities, Wholesome Wave increases access to and affordability of fresh, locally grown food to nourish neighborhoods across America. These initiatives, such as the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) and the Fruit & Veggie Prescription Program (FVRx), demonstrate and support the viability of healthy food commerce and its ability to rebuild our nation’s food system. Wholesome Wave leverages private and public funds, as well as existing Federal, State and local government programs, to foster collaborative efforts through a national network of strategically targeted program partners.  This network of partners works in concert to transform current realities in the American food system. Visit  www.wholesomewave.org to learn more. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

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