Funding supports initiative to advance health equity through WIC program, provide ongoing refugee assistance
Catholic Charities of Buffalo is the recipient of recent donations totaling $60,000 from Amerigroup, a partner of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. With a $55,000 grant, Catholic Charities is extending its “Advancing Health Equity” initiative through its Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program. The health plan also donated $5,000 to assist Catholic Charities’ immigration and refugee assistance program.
“Through both of these programs, Catholic Charities promotes an environment of inclusion, whether it’s among families in need of nutritional assistance through WIC, or refugees becoming established in our community,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “Thanks to the generous support of Amerigroup and Highmark, we continue to be a beacon of hope for our clients and for our community.”
Last July, Catholic Charities was awarded a $55,000 Advancing Health Equity to Achieve Diversity (AHEAD) Grant from the National WIC Association. Funding was used to analyze social determinants of health during nutrition counseling and then connect families to the appropriate community resources, as well as to educate the community and local health care providers on how WIC promotes health equity and the services offered. The original six-month initiative launched in September 2021. With this influx of new funding, the initiative is extended from March 2022 through the end of the year. During this time, WIC staff will be trained on cultural humility and bias, which they can incorporate into client counseling sessions as well as continued collaboration with community partners to increase awareness of the impact of social determinants of health.
WIC is a federal nutrition program that supports families to live a healthier life. WIC provides nutrition education and counseling; breastfeeding support, prenatal and postpartum support; referrals and food benefits for women, infants and children up to age 5. Catholic Charities’ WIC program served more than 23,000 individuals in Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties last year.
“We are proud to support our friends at Catholic Charities to help ensure that communities across Western New York have access to critical health education, support and resources, especially our most underserved populations,” said Michael Hofer, president of Amerigroup WNY. “We consistently seek out opportunities and collaborations that can help improve lives, close gaps in care, and increase health equity. As part of this ongoing commitment, we are pleased to work together with organizations like Catholic Charities, who are on the front lines of providing care to some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Amerigroup and Highmark additionally donated $5,000 to the immigration and refugee assistance program to help with rent, food, bus passes and any other needs identified by clients, such as steel-toe boots for employment. The health plan also donated 50 health kits containing scales, thermometers and blood pressure monitors, and hosted an immunization clinic late last year for resettled clients.
For more details about Catholic Charities’ WIC or immigration and refugee assistance programs, visit ccwny.org.
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. That need is varied and widespread – from emergency assistance to mental health counseling and treatment, and from specialized services for older adults to help with job training and education. For more information, visit ccwny.org.
Amerigroup partners with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY to administer and manage the company’s Medicaid managed care programs. These programs provide free and low-cost health benefits to over 50,000 Western New York residents.