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Patient Appreciation Day

The Social Determinants of Health include the many factors that can either promote or undermine health, usually far beyond a clinic’s walls. Hunger or lack of steady access to food – sometimes called “food insecurity” — is one of them. For many years, the Santa Cruz County Safety Net clinics have recognized how important healthy, nutritious food is to their patients’ health — and also how often this ingredient of a healthy life is missing. That’s why several have partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to make it easy for patients and staff to pick up food for their families while they’re at the clinic.

As COVID-19 forced many people not only indoors but into unemployment, the Outreach and Enrollment team at Santa Cruz Community Health Centers’ East Cliff Family Health Center ramped up its existing food distribution. At first, they set up a Farmer’s Market layout in the Health Center parking lot, but the staff quickly realized the demand would outpace the supply and pace. With Second Harvest Food Bank’s help, they increased the offerings and switched to a drive-up model, with staff placing bags of food into people’s cars and delivering to vulnerable patients who couldn’t make it to the distribution. Between March and the end of June, they distributed a whopping 109,850 pounds of fresh produce and non-perishable items — 10 times their quarterly average before COVID. As a patient said, “The food relieves some of my fears from everything that is happening.”

Salud Para La Gente also increased its food distribution options, building on over a decade of working closely with Second Harvest Food Bank. Along with food, the clinics are trying to provide supplies that might help patients stay home and make fewer trips to the store – baby food, wipes, diapers, condoms, and feminine hygiene products.

To support these efforts across the County, please support Second Harvest Food Bank or help the clinics directly by covering the costs of supplies, warehouse space, and staffing.

[Staff from Santa Cruz Community Health Center distributing food during their Drive-up Food Distribution. For more information visit:]


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