Food Equality Initiative is thrilled to call Missouri Care a partner in our work to improve health and end hunger in the food allergy and celiac disease population. I had the opportunity to talk with Meredith Childs (MC), Supervisor, Advocacy and Community Based Programs at Missouri Care about our partnership and what it means to their members.

FEI: What is the role of the Community Advocacy department at Missouri Care?

MC: The department looks to address the social determinants of health by eliminating barriers to members in the community that impact health. Many barriers are in the social service field.

If someone is having difficulty paying their rent or finding food, they may not be focused on the changes they may need to make to improve their health. Our team works to find the gaps in our state and how we can work together with agencies in the community to eliminate the gaps, so members can focus on their health concerns.

FEI: How does food insecurity impact the health of your members?

MC: In October of 2018 Healthy food access was listed in our top 5 needs identified by members. Our case management team provides referrals. When they connect with members, they ask what they need. It’s a big challenge to our members.

Healthy food access is defined as food pantry. Members need a bridge between pay day and nutrition assistance.

FEI: What excites you the most about the partnership between Missouri Care and Food Equality Initiative?

MC: For me it’s knowing your story, how the organization grew. I’m passionate about this field and I am honored to work for Missouri Care. It combines two fields of work for me, Social Work and health care. I started in this role a year and half ago. We’re a social service agency within the health arena.

I recently had a conversation with someone with celiac disease and they shared the challenges of accessing safe foods in the school. FEI is an innovative way to address the triggers that can make it challenging to staying safe. We’re excited about being on the foreground of something that will be big.

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