How Community Health Services Help Prevent Homelessness and Hunger – Michigan Medicine Headlines

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Key points to remember:

  • It’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
  • The Bureau of Housing for the Aged, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, and the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools are all part of Michigan Medicine’s Community Health Services – and they support everyone dealing with homelessness and hunger.
  • The programs help Michigan Medicine provide health care outside of hospitals and health centers, “in the places where people live, work, play and pray.”

This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an opportunity to educate the public and bring attention to the causes and challenges facing those who suffer from hunger and homelessness. roaming.

In Michigan Medicine, the Housing Bureau for Seniors and several other programs provide services that prevent homelessness and address hunger. These programs are part of Community Health Services, the main initiatives of which are designed to improve the health of our communities, including caring for and promoting the health of children and families and protecting the health and quality life of the elderly.

Three CHS programs directly address homelessness and hunger: the aforementioned Housing Office for Seniors, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, and the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools.

Here’s what you might not know about these important agencies:

Senior Housing Office

The Office of Housing for the Elderly (HBS) social work team helps tenants and landlords secure sustainable housing through the provision of free housing counseling and case management services.

By helping seniors (55+) obtain or maintain sustainable housing, HBS also supports their ability to obtain healthy, nutritious food, pay for necessary medications, and maintain independence.

“Sustainable housing for seniors ultimately translates to better mental health, fewer hospital visits and peace of mind,” said Janet Hunko, director of the Office of Senior Housing. “Older adults face many unique challenges as they age; housing should never be one of them.

Of Washtenaw County’s 30,000 senior households, nearly 10,000 are “housing-cost burdened,” meaning they spend more than a third of their income on housing-related expenses, prevents them from affording medicine and food.

“It is critical that seniors retain their homes in Washtenaw County as there is a severe shortage of affordable housing available,” Hunko said. “We only have about 1.6 affordable housing units for every 10 households burdened with housing costs. And that problem is exacerbated by the fact that nearly 20% of homeless adults in Washtenaw County are 55 and older and need the same affordable housing.

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels (AAMOW) seeks to reduce hunger and food insecurity in a culturally appropriate way for housebound people in the Ann Arbor area who are unable to shop and to prepare complete and nutritious meals themselves.

In FY22, AAMOW provided 128,835 Western, Asian, vegetarian, gluten-free and liquid meals to 418 customers, including 154 new customers, with the loyal support of 250 volunteers who donated 6,860 hours of their time.

When AAMOW customers were asked about the impact AAMOW has had on their lives, 86% agreed that meals on wheels were their primary source of nutrition. Meanwhile, 98% of customers agreed that Meals on Wheels helped them stay home and live independently, 95% said they ate healthier thanks to AAMOW, and 95% indicated that AAMOW helped them maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

Regional Alliance for a Healthy School

The Regional Alliance of Healthy Schools (RAHS) operates several School Health Centers, which provide a unique setting for Registered Dietitians Nutritionists (RDNs) to provide preventative nutrition services to adolescents who may not have access due to transportation. , financial barriers and other factors.

This access allows RDNs to perform food insecurity screening and ongoing patient follow-up. Individual nutritional counseling is also provided and can be extended to a group setting with physical activity and the use of evidence-based curricula.

“Monitoring progress, connecting with families and building relationships with community partners for resources are imperative to community success,” said Allison Shannon, MPH, RDN Chief Clinical Dietitian for RAHS..

RAHS partners with Food Gatherers for food distribution and the Washtenaw County Health Department Ordinance for health program to provide families with a scenario for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from regional farmers markets and school welfare teams to consult on an ongoing basis to address concerns identified by school districts.

A strong support network

In total, CHS is made up of nine different departments that have a strong base of community support, all of which positively impact the health and well-being of the community.

“These programs represent Michigan Medicine’s commitment to the community – health care does not just happen within the four walls of the hospital, but in the places where people live, work, play and pray” , said Alfreda Rooks, director of CHS. “We are proud of the work we do to build bridges and connect communities to programs and services that promote improved health and quality of life.

Watch the video at the top of the page for insights from those who have lived with housing instability in Washtenaw County.

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