By Mackenzie Davis
WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) – A team of local organizations is working on putting an end to the issue of nearly 5,500 Winona residents going to bed hungry.
The Winona Community HUB is the result of a collaboration between Winona Health, Winona County Human Services, Winona Volunteer Services, Project FINE, Winona Area Public Schools, Live Well Winona, and Bluff Country Co-op. This Winona Wellbeing Collaborative is creating a system to efficiently and effectively connect people in our community with the resources they need to improve their health and overall well-being.
“We know we can’t do everything at once, so we’re starting by focusing on food insecurity, particularly in families with children, because we know that not having enough to eat affects so many other areas,” said Jessica Remington, director of health and wellness services at Winona Health. “When we held listening sessions in the community, we heard about people having to make choices between paying rent or buying food.”
Jennifer Walters, director of food and nutrition services at Winona Area Public Schools said, “We know that 28% of Winona County children are eligible for free lunch. Research supports that healthy children are better equipped to obtain higher education, enter the workforce and contribute to the community.”
“It’s increasingly important to impact social risk factors affecting our member’s health,” says UCare’s Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Julia Joseph-Di Caprio, MD. “Research shows approximately 90 percent of health outcomes are determined by factors outside the clinic walls, so we are thrilled to support the launch of the innovative Winona Wellbeing Collaborative’s Community HUB to address food insecurity among our members and in the Winona community.”
UCare is one of the funding sources for this program, providing a $42,273 grant. Other funders include the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Prevention, and the United Way.
The Winona Community HUB will serve as the home base from which organizations in the Winona Wellbeing Collaborative will work with families to help navigate resources at partner agencies. This ensures seamless, effective, and unduplicated assistance. “We are really excited about the difference we can make in our community,” said Deb McClellan, community wellbeing manager at Live Well Winona.
To learn more, visit https://www.livewellwinona.org/