The Food & Shelter initiative will help fund efforts of aid organizations in several counties in the state

By STAFF     6/2/2016

St. Joseph Health (SJH) last week announced it will provide $1 million in grant money to more than 30 nonprofits who serve the hungry and homeless throughout California.

At the core of SJH’s mission is helping those who are in most need. The grant initiative reflects the values of the organization. The funds are possible because of the commitment by St. Joseph Health’s Calif. Hospitals, that each contribute 10 percent of their net income to create healthier communities.

“This commitment to caring for our neighbors is one of the ways we translate our values into action,” said Annette M. Walker, MHA, interim president and CEO, St. Joseph Health. “We want to improve the overall health and quality of life of people in the communities we serve. This initiative is aimed at providing for their most immediate needs, the need for food and the need for shelter. Hunger and homelessness are huge obstacles to health and well-being. We know, for example that food insecurity is connected with chronic health problems, poor performance in school and higher levels of anxiety.”

According to a United Way of California report, one in three households statewide do not have enough income to meet their basic cost of living.

The grant money will reach beyond Orange County’s borders and extend to serve those in the desert communities, Sonoma, Napa and Humboldt counties.

Nicole Suydam, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank in Irvine, said, “Hunger isn’t an issue confined to certain neighborhoods.” Her organization depends on funds from St. Joseph Health to provide fresh produce to some 34,000 people in O.C.

Other organizations that receive funds from SJH include Illumination Foundation, which helps transition homeless families into emergency housing. The Friendship Shelter in South O.C. provides emergency shelter and supportive housing. The Family Assistance Program in the High Desert offers support and services to victims of domestic violence.

In total, 33 nonprofits that serve the hungry and homeless will benefit from the $1 million St. Joseph Health grant fund.