Monroe, LA – Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) and the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana (Food Bank of NELA) have entered into a memorandum of understanding to help meet the mental health, physical health, and food insecurity needs of vulnerable communities in Northeast Louisiana.
NEDHSA Executive Director Dr. Monteic A. Sizer said this strategic partnership further advances Northeast Delta’s integrated healthcare delivery model and efforts to reduce negative social determinants of health like inadequate housing, unemployment, food insecurity, loneliness, and limited education.
“Thousands of our region’s people go to bed hungry every night. This includes hundreds of those who depend on our mental health, addiction, prevention and wellness, and developmental disability services,” Dr. Sizer said. “Many of our workforce development, transitional housing, senior, and veteran initiatives clients also suffer from food insecurity. And we know how food insecurity, poor diets and inadequate nutrition, directly and indirectly, contribute to weakened immune systems, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, to name a few. All things we see daily in the clinical population we serve.”
NEDHSA will lead the creation of an analytic tool and methodology to help ascertain the severity of food insecurity in Northeast Louisiana. The survey tool will be developed in partnership with the Food Bank of NELA and distributed throughout both networks and the 12-parish region. In particular, the survey instrument will ask an array of questions about mental health, addiction, primary health, food insecurity, negative social determinants, and trauma. Once the data is gathered, Northeast Delta will analyze the data, publish and share the findings, and immediately begin to fill gaps and needs identified by survey participants.
Food Bank of NELA Executive Director Jean Toth said they are very excited about partnering with NEDHSA “and working together to ensure that a spectrum of needs can be identified and addressed.”
“Recognizing our organizations serve the same twelve parishes, we can work in partnership to connect a variety of benefits, supports, and services to those we serve,” Toth said. “Our collaboration will help more of our neighbors enjoy a full, healthy life and ensure they have enough food on their table.”
Dr. Sizer added, “When I started my journey in Northeast Louisiana years ago, I promised the people NEDHSA would do everything it could to make things better for all, especially those living on the margins of society. I also mentioned that we would form strong community partnerships and leverage resources to help meet human needs and work across silos. Our work with the Food Bank of NELA allows us to further chip away at those structural barriers that limit people from living out their full human potential.”