Open Hand Supports South Georgians Hit Hard by Pandemic

With generous funding from United Healthcare, Open Hand recently launched Cooking Matters for Healthcare Providers in south Georgia — an area severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With local hospitals and clinics forced to cut many valuable community outreach programs, these rural communities have seen a dramatic increase in food insecurity and an overall lack of access to preventive care — exacerbating public health issues that existed even before the pandemic took its toll. 

Open Hand Cooking Matters instructors Amy Elsasser and Shelly Bryant safely teach participants how to shop, cook and eat healthy on a very limited budget, and provide each participant with a week’s worth of fresh local produce to take home and practice what they’ve learned. (Look for a feature on the amazing local grower and her family farm soon!)

Cooking Matters for Healthcare Providers, which launched in mid-March, is designed to assist our healthcare partners in the region in expanding preventive care outreach through evidence-based nutrition interventions and access to healthy food — an empowering first step in helping these communities begin to heal. Participants in the 6-week program are enrolled through our collaborative partnerships with Barnes Healthcare, Southwell Hospital (Tift Regional), Phoebe Putney Hospital, as well as several Federally Qualified Health Centers in the region and the Department of Public Health.

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