While there has been an increased focus on addressing the social determinants of health from the healthcare industry over the last few years, there is still a significant amount of work to be done in this space. The social determinants of health, at their core, are factors that impact a person’s health that are often outside of that person’s control, including demographic, geographic, and socioeconomic factors. For instance, the environment in which we live may present several barriers to achieving a healthy lifestyle, including limited access to purchase healthy foods.
Food Insecurity in Kansas City
In Kansas City, 1 in 6 people are food insecure. This means that 350,000 people – including 100,000 children – in our community don’t know where or when they may have their next meal. During the summer months, this problem is exacerbated with an additional 1 to 2 meals missed per day that children normally receive through school-based programs. Nationwide, 6 out of 7 children living in food-insecure homes don’t get the summer meals they need.
Both adults and children who live in food-insecure households suffer from hunger and a lack of proper nutrition. Food insecurity is associated with a plethora of poor health outcomes, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, poor mental health and depression, and higher medical costs. Kansas City’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) has identified six high-priority ZIP Codes (64126, 64127, 64128, 64129, 64130 and 64132) based on their low life expectancy. As in most low life expectancy communities, these six zip codes are situated in nutritional deserts, meaning that the residents of these ZIP Codes have very limited access to affordable, nutritious food.
Blue KC Market Days
To help increase access to the healthy foods that aid a healthy lifestyle, Blue KC launched its Well Stocked initiative. This summer, Blue KC has created Well Stocked Market Days to support increased access to local farmers’ markets for populations living in nutritional deserts. As part of the Market Days program, Blue KC is offering $30 toward Lyft rides to and from the City Market and Overland Park farmers’ markets on Saturday, June 1.
Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:
- Download the Lyft App on your smartphone device (iTunes App Store, Google Play App Store, Amazon App Store, or Microsoft App Store)
- Create your profile
- Sign in and type in the address of the Farmers’ Market you’d like to visit.
- City Market – 20 E. 5th Street, Kansas City, MO 64016 (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
- Overland Park – 7950 Marty Street, Overland Park, KS 66204 (7 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
- Select payment method from the drop-down menu
- Enter promo code BLUEKC30 to have the $30 discount applied to your account
This initiative is also supported by Well Stocked partner Cultivate KC, which will work with vendors at each of the Farmers’ Markets to offer items redeemable with Double Up Food Bucks. Double Up Food Bucks provides matched dollars to SNAP EBT Card carriers and those eligible for SNAP on eligible purchases at the Farmer’s Markets. You’ll find both Blue KC and Cultivate KC volunteers at the Farmers’ Markets on June 1 to help attendees navigate the Farmers Market, share easy-to-make recipes using great Farmers’ Market finds and answer any questions.
To learn more about Blue KC’s Well Stocked program, visit the Well Stocked webpage and follow Blue KC’s Facebook and Twitter for information about future events and opportunities to join the Well Stocked initiative.
Vice President, Community Health
Qiana Thomason is the Vice President of Community Health at Blue KC. Qiana is responsible for helping to improve the health and wellness of Blue KC members and the Kansas City community. She provides thought leadership to strategies that focus on the behavioral, socioeconomic and environmental factors that influence health outcomes.