Optum, a leading health services company, and Wider Circle, a tech-enabled community-based health care services company that drives better health for older adults and other vulnerable communities, have partnered with Helping Hands Community (HHC) to launch the “Community Food Circle” initiative to bring food to thousands of Optum patients in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative supports Optum’s goal of helping people reach their health and well-being goals, including addressing social determinants of health.
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According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, more than half a million households face barriers accessing nutritional foods. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem. Even as some restrictions are lifted, older adults — especially those with chronic conditions — may still choose to avoid places with groups of people such as grocery stores. They may also lack transportation. The “Community Food Circle” initiative connects food donations and delivery to people in need.
“Our goal through this collaboration is to get food to people who are in urgent need,” said Jaime Ramos, M.D., regional medical director for Optum California. “Food security and health are so intertwined. Together with partners who share our commitment, we’re working to address this issue and build healthier communities.”
During today’s event, Optum volunteers from its AppleCare and HealthCare Partners physician groups, Wider Circle staff, volunteers from HHC and other community partners, packed and loaded food supplies into Uber vehicles. Uber drivers then delivered the food to Optum patients across Los Angeles County. HHC provides a tech-enabled platform that connects businesses and nonprofits who want to help, with local residents in need to create seamless, organized volunteer efforts.
“Helping Hands Community is thrilled to work with Optum and Wider Circle to bring our technology, volunteers and partnership with Uber to help facilitate and scale this massive delivery effort,” said Jeff Miller, CEO and co-founder of HHC. “With shelter-in-place orders lifting, the virus still presents a significant risk to the many LA residents vulnerable to COVID-19. HHC will continue to partner with nonprofit and corporate organizations to enable scalable delivery solutions to those in need.”
Since the beginning of California’s shelter-in-place order, Optum and Wider Circle have offered social support and meal delivery services free of charge to more than 20,000 Optum patients in Los Angeles County. Today’s partnerships with HHC expands the meal delivery service by offering it to an additional 60,000 Optum patients. Each food package provides an individual 10 days of food.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Wider Circle has partnered with Optum to facilitate social support services like peer-to-peer phone calls, meal delivery and virtual support groups that have been especially critical for seniors and other vulnerable populations,” said Darin Buxbaum, president and chief operating officer of Wider Circle. “Collaborating with Uber and Helping Hands Community allows us to further expand our efforts to alleviate food insecurity for thousands of seniors during this challenging time.”
About Optum California
Optum California is an integrated health system that serves more than 1.4 million patients across Southern California through its family of medical groups and provider networks, including OptumCare Medical Group, HealthCare Partners, AppleCare Medical Group, Monarch HealthCare and North American Medical Management of California. More information is at www.optum.com.
About Wider Circle
Wider Circle works with health plans nationally to deliver unique community care programs that connect neighbors for better health. Centered on trusted relationships, Wider Circle connects health plan members with familiar neighbors to inform, support and motivate one another, empowering them to be more proactive about their health. Wider Circle’s trusted delivery network has been proven to drive resilience, improve member experience and engagement, and reduce hospitalizations. Today, Wider Circle offers its unique neighborhood care programs to more than 135 communities nationwide, including specialized COVID-19 support for vulnerable populations in isolation via virtual programming and peer-to-peer community support.
About Helping Hands Community
Helping Hands Community is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those most vulnerable to COVID-19: senior citizens, the immunocompromised, and people with pre-existing medical conditions which put them at additional risk. Our community of volunteers deliver groceries, medicine, and other necessary supplies, and our local and national partners help us identify and reach those in need wherever they may be. The Helping Hands Community platform makes community volunteerism easy and reliable, while providing a tech-enabled solution for partners to scale their impact. Founded by veterans of Uber, Facebook, and Google and students beginning their careers, the Helping Hands Community comprises more than 150 volunteers from around the world.