WICHITA – The Kansas Health Foundation board of directors recently approved $5.325 million in grant funding to support statewide COVID-19 efforts that provide access to health care, address food insecurity, and assist the United Way of the Plains with pandemic response. To date, KHF has authorized more than $16.3 million to support emergency COVID-19 response and recovery efforts across Kansas.
$2.825 million for health clinics
This includes the Heart of Kansas Family Health Care Inc. in Great Bend.
KHF is providing emergency core operating support to the 19 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Kansas. FQHCs are health clinics that connect low-income or uninsured Kansans to care. In the last month, 50-75% of routine care visits and procedures that provide financial support for clinics were postponed, significantly reducing operating income. At the same time, these clinics are responding to emergent care needs related to the pandemic, which has increased costs. KHF believes safety net clinics provide vitally critical access to care for vulnerable Kansas populations; it is essential that these entities remain viable beyond the pandemic.
$2 million for food insecurity
As a result of massive furloughs and dramatically increased unemployment, food banks in Kansas are experiencing a surge of requests for assistance. In addition, mandatory school closures have limited or denied meaningful food access for children who regularly receive and rely upon free- or reduced-price school-based meals. The $2 million will be allocated to two food access projects – food bank support and meal delivery for children.
KHF will provide $1 million for emergency support that will focus primarily on funding three of the state’s major food banks – the Kansas Food Bank, Harvesters Community Food Network and Second Harvest Community Food Bank. These agencies are experiencing increasing demand for assistance and significant operational challenges. Large-scale donations from food wholesalers and agribusiness have plummeted and volunteer capacity has reduced as physical distancing has limited the ability to package and distribute food.
Another $1 million will support access to meals for students through the summer months, as well as address other food insecurity in our state. With school building closures and physical distancing guidelines, it has been more difficult and costly for school districts to provide meals for students who participate in free- or reduced-price lunch programs. In addition, the funds will help address ongoing struggles for families to access healthy foods during the summer.
$500,000 to United Way of the Plains
KHF’s mission and focus are statewide, but they are based in Wichita. That is their corporate home; it’s where they live. As a result, KHF has a particular responsibility, as corporate citizens of that community, to provide focused support to Wichita/Sedgwick County during this remarkably challenging time.
In south-central Kansas, the impacts from COVID-19 are compounded by significant aviation industry layoffs from early 2020. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, more than 41,000 initial unemployment claims were filed during the week ending April 4 for Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner and Cowley counties.
KHF believes United Way of the Plains is exceptionally well-positioned to provide front-line support to more than 80 nonprofit programs (serving approximately 137,000 residents last year), and to assist laid off workers and those affected by stay-at-home orders.
Beyond the four-county area in south central Kansas, KHF funding will support 2-1-1, the United Way of the Plains’ statewide resource and referral system. Through this one-stop phone resource, Kansans can access information for health and social service programs, including childcare, health and mental health care information, food assistance and questions about COVID-19.