SNAP for Health: A healthy community starts with strong partnerships

Food insecurity impacts 40 million Americans, and Latino families are disproportionately affected. Nearly 1 in 5 Latino adults are food insecure, compared  to 1 in 10 white non-Hispanics. The rate for Latino children is even more pronounced, with 1 in 4 living in a food-insecure household as compared to 1 in 8  white non-Hispanic children. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an important resource for low-income families, including Latinos, struggling with food insecurity and hunger.

Comprando Rico y Sano | SNAP for health | healthy eating

UnidosUS’s Comprando Rico y Sano program (“Buying Healthy and Flavorful Foods”) is a national program intended to reduce hunger and food insecurity by instilling healthy shopping and eating habits among Latinos through nutrition education and SNAP enrollment assistance. Developed by UnidosUS and supported by the Walmart Foundation, the program responds to the needs of predominantly Spanish-speaking Latino communities using the culturally-sensitive promotores de salud model.

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As an immediate basic need, food is the foundation for our health and wellbeing. Living under food insecurity puts adults at risk of developing chronic conditions and diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease), and makes them more likely to need medical treatment and hospital readmissions. For children, being hungry affects their ability to grow, learn, and thrive.

Given that Hispanic families—almost 18% of the U.S. population—experience some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country, this problem is not only a substantive threat to the health and well-being of Latino children and families, but also to the future success of our country.

Working in partnership

UnidosUS is a proud partner of the Walmart Foundation to help solve these problems. The support of the Walmart Foundation has made the success of Comprando Rico y Sano possible. The Foundation’s mission – one that is closely aligned with our own mission – is to create opportunities so people can live better, and they consider it their responsibility to make a positive impact in the communities they serve. It supports efforts to reduce hunger and food insecurity in local communities—especially those impacted by food deserts—and around the world. This is part of the Foundation’s commitment to contributing to healthy communities: they believe that every family should have access to affordable, nutritious, and sustainably-grown food.

“Partnerships are critical when it comes to how people access food, as well as learn about healthy eating.” – Eileen Hyde

Eileen Hyde | Walmart Foundation | SNAP for Health
Eileen Hyde, Director at the Walmart Foundation Photo: Walmart Foundation

Eileen Hyde, Director at the Walmart Foundation, talks about the impact our collaboration has had in the community, “The Walmart Foundation is incredibly proud of supporting Comprando Rico y Sano.” Our program is bringing the hunger relief and the healthy eating work together to the heart of our communities – our families: “[Comprando Rico y Sano] is embedded in the community. It is executed and implemented by community health workers that are in the community and are trusted messengers that contextualize the work to what makes sense to families.”

Why Comprando Rico y Sano

Along with instilling healthy shopping and eating habits among Hispanics through nutrition education, UnidosUS’s Comprando Rico y Sano program is also helping reduce hunger providing SNAP information and enrollment assistance across communities.

The value of SNAP to curb food insecurity is major: SNAP has been a vital resource for families that find themselves in tough times and experiencing hunger. However, Latinos often face cultural, linguistic, and structural barriers in accessing SNAP, and as a result more than four million eligible Latinos are not enrolled in the program.

But thanks to Comprando Rico y Sano and the combined efforts of 24 UnidosUS Affiliates, which are community-based organizations, in 2017-2018 alone we:

  • Delivered face-to-face nutrition education and SNAP information to 73,602
  • Enrolled 25,636 Latinos in SNAP.
  • Reached an approximate 5 million Latinos with nutrition and SNAP enrollment messages via news and social media.

Using the model of community health workers, or promotores de salud, this program reaches the community where they are, through charlas (small educational sessions), and the use of hands-on, practice-based approaches like cooking demonstrations and grocery store tours, to educate Latinos about healthy eating, grocery shopping on a limited budget, and the importance of preparing healthy meals at home.

But they don’t just stop here. Promotores de salud also provide SNAP education and enrollment assistance to eligible Latinos. Effectively communicating with community members about SNAP requires demystifying misconceptions about the program and thoroughly reviewing the application process with them. It is vital for Latinos to clearly understand SNAP’s benefits and eligibility requirements, know what documents they need to apply, and how-to follow-up, if necessary, after submitting their application.

That is why UnidosUS is launching a “SNAP for Health” campaign, a series of video vignettes to highlight the importance of SNAP as told through different personal perspectives. In the next couple of weeks, we will share how SNAP is touching the lives of community-based organization leaders, promotores de salud, and program recipients.

UnidosUS’s approach to delivering culturally and linguistically-responsive content for health programs, such as Comprando Rico y Sano, and contributes to building healthy, equitable and resilient communities. By leveraging strong partnerships, community engagement and resources, and rallying leaders around a common goal like reducing hunger and food insecurity, new ways to solve this consequential and widespread issue will emerge, thereby creating a healthier future for Latino families and their children.

Our nation’s social and economic well-being depends on the stability, vibrancy and health of every community, and every person, particularly those who are the most vulnerable. Addressing their needs, in an equitable way, must be a priority for all of us.

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