The Health Trust receives Consul General Juan Manuel Calderon Jaimes for facilities-wide tour, strengthens Ventanilla de Salud program

Today we had the honor of receiving Consul General Juan Manuel Calderon Jaimes. The Health Trust Senior Vice President of Programs Paul Hepfer gave an extensive tour of our offices and facilities, stopping by both programs and business offices, The Health Trust Family Resource Center (1 of 8 local FRCs committed to providing services and programs to families with young children), the Living & Learning Lounge on Race Street, as well as our nutrition services building from where Meals on Wheels and several other food access programs are operated.

Thank you to the Consulado General de México en San José, CA for continuing our partnership over the years. Our collaboration on the Ventanilla de Salud program allows The Health Trust a unique opportunity to support health care access and education for constituents of the Mexican consulate in San Jose – which includes populations from Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Through this partnership, we are able to have a Health Trust employee at the Consulate every morning Monday through Friday to promote our suite of Wellness Access and Education services. This suite includes, but is not limited to, chronic disease self-management courses, oral health education, and health insurance enrollment. Additionally, this collaboration partners with Foothill Community Health Center to provide biometiric screening for Consulate visitors two Fridays out of every month.

Check out our Facebook for more photos from the tours.

Fifth Bridge Library opens at The Health Trust Family Resource Center

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the fifth San Jose Bridge Library opened at The Health Trust Family Resource Center as a collaboration between The Health Trust, Catholic Charities Santa Clara County, First 5 Santa Clara County, and San Jose Public Library.

The ribbon-cutting celebration was attended by family resource center clients and children, as well as representatives from program partners. Michele Lew, CEO of The Health Trust, and Jacqueline Copeland-Carson, COO of Catholic Charities Santa Clara County, opened the ceremony as guest speakers.

As of Wednesday, three Health Trust Family Resource Centers now have Bridge Libraries open to all client families. Bridge Libraries were initially launched as a partnership between First 5 Santa Clara County and San Jose Public Library in 2015 to provide access to library resources in the underserved neighborhoods of San Jose.

Check out our Facebook post to see photos from the grand opening!

The Health Trust celebrates staff at Annual Employee Service Awards

On January 19, 2018, all Health Trust staff gathered at Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant for the Annual Service Awards Banquet. We enjoyed games, raffle prizes, great food, and even greater company.

The following staff members were recognized for their years-long commitment to The Health Trust and our mission to build health equity in Silicon Valley:

15 Years of Service

  • Leticia Fernandez

5 Years of Service

  • Christine Green
  • Eustolia Ibarra
  • Gemma Failano
  • Cindy Tran
  • Trang Van
  • Lalitha Venkatesan

Check out our Facebook album for more photos.


The Health Trust & Community Partners Welcome Michele Lew at Mexican Heritage Plaza

On Tuesday afternoon, The Health Trust staff and community partners welcomed Michele Lew as the new Health Trust CEO at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose.

Early on in the program, an informal Q&A held between Health Trust staff and Michele allowed for discussion about programs and services, The Health Trust mission, and even coffee preferences.

As community partners and leaders later joined the celebration, Supervisor Joe Simitian, County of Santa Clara, District 5, and Dolores Alvarado, CEO of Community Health Partnership – both colleagues, mentors, and friends to Michele – shared their memories of working with her and excitement for her future at The Health Trust.

Joe said of Michele’s leadership style: “Warm-hearted and cool-headed.” And from Dolores: “[The Health Trust] is the luckiest community-based organization today.”

Thank you all for coming to the reception and helping us welcome our new CEO. Check out photos from the event on The Health Trust Facebook page!

Mercury News: Seniors Walk with Animals at Happy Hollow Zoo

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SAN JOSE — It is never too late to cross going on a safari off of your bucket list — just head to Happy Hollow Zoo.

“Such a nice place to walk, the animals are all just starting to come out and about,” said 59 year-old Katherine Zimmerman from San Jose. “My husband and I love the chickens, they were running them around for a bit.”

Walking through the paved pathways lined with trees and bamboo — surrounded by lemurs, meerkats, anteaters and turkey vultures — the zoo comes to life, attracting kids and parents of all ages. Even if children are well out of the house, Happy Hollow Zoo really welcomes people of all ages. The Senior Safari every fourth Thursday of the month through October offers senior citizens over 50 years-old the opportunity to get out and explore the zoo at their own pace.

The program started in 2015 as a way for seniors to rekindle their inner child and exercise while watching the zoo wake-up — free of charge.

“We want seniors to enjoy nature and be a kid again,” said Kiersten McCormick, Assistant General Manager of Happy Hollow Zoo. “I’ve seen seniors go down the slide at Redwood Lookout and ride the rollercoaster.”

The park opens 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. for the program and seniors are welcome to stay in the zoo during the day with their family when gates open at 10:00 a.m. Part of the experience is seeing the zoo wake-up, with specialists feeding the animals and getting them to do their morning exercise too.

“Chickens, let’s go!” Mandy McGuire, one of the zoo’s animal specialists, can be heard shouting during one of the typical morning calls. “We call this one Breakfast with the Chickens.”

McGuire said seniors love interacting with the animals, whether it comes to feeding or petting.

One special part of the Safari is the Animal Chats, when seniors listen in and get up close and personal with some of the animals. McGuire leads some of these Animal Chats, covering a range of tropical animals from as far away as Madagascar.

“One of the favorites is Lucille, Lucille the ball python,” McGuire said. “Lucille Ball Python — the name is corny, but they love it.”

Not all of the animals are up and out early — the capybara isn’t a morning person, but the red pandas are always an adorable hit with the older folks. In addition to watching the sleeping risers, seniors can take tours, sample healthy breakfast foods, ride one of the rides, engage in art or exercise with one of the zoo’s activities like hula-hooping or line dancing.

George Linter from San Jose was excited to get on Happy Hollow’s Pacific Fruit Express roller coaster.

“I’m 56 years-young,” Linter said. “I still like doing all the things my grandkids do and I’ll do it with them after I test it for myself — for safety purposes, of course.”

Kaiser worked with the zoo through a grant and developed 10,000 step paths throughout the park to help seniors get to their fitness goals. Now, sponsored by [The] Health Trust — an organization promoting health in Silicon Valley — seniors can talk to a Health Trust specialist about healthy habits and staying active.

The idea for the Safari came through discussions with the San Jose Rotary Club and local visitors who said that San Jose needed more safe places for seniors to get out and be social, according to executive director of the Happy Hollow Foundation Heather Lerner.

“Part of this is that we got feedback from older citizens that they wanted to come to the zoo but didn’t feel comfortable because they didn’t have young children anymore,” Lerner said. “So we thought, why not make a special time for them?”

On a recent Thursday, the zoo’s Senior Safari hosted officials from [The] Health Trust, county supervisor Dave Cortese and two city councilmembers to talk about the Safari being an age-friendly event.

“It’s a great, safe place to be to enjoy the outdoors,” said San Jose’s 67 year-old Lisa Derby. “And after this, my grandkids will come and I’ll get to spend the day with them too.”

That special time has attracted as many as 800 seniors for one Safari, welcoming seniors from near and far, as Happy Hollow Zoo is accredited through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is ADA accessible. Both San Jose City and the AZA have accredited Happy Hollow Zoo as one of the safest and most ecological areas in the city for seniors to enjoy exotic nature.

“I hope we can inspire other zoos to do this,” Lerner said. “Seniors are such a great part of the community and we want them to get out and have that vibrancy that they had as children.”

Read the original Mercury News article here.

Mercury News: Council Approves Pilot Program for “Tiny Homes” for Homeless

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SAN JOSE — After more than a year of debate, the City Council approved a pilot program Tuesday to build up to three “tiny home” villages for the homeless — but the fight over where to place the unconventional homeless housing rages on.

The council approved the plan 9-2, with Councilmen Johnny Khamis and Donald Rocha opposed, after hundreds of residents and housing advocates packed City Hall to debate where to place the homeless micro-housing.

Residents on Tuesday complained that putting the homeless next to them would increase crime and reduce property values.

“I know people have called our arguments NIMBYish,” said Ashley Sweren, 38, a Thousand Oaks resident of 13 years. “But frankly, this experiment doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard until the city has run a pilot to ensure this is a manageable, economic and effective solution that is positive and safe.”

The council Tuesday eliminated limitations like keeping the tiny homes 100-150 feet away from houses, schools and parks — at least for now. Tiny home sites now must be at least 0.50 acres or inside a 10,000 square-foot building, with access to transit and utilities. City officials will revisit the matter in 60 days with a list of new potential sites and a detailed plan for outreach to residents.

The tiny sleeping cabins would be just big enough for a bed, window and locking door, but would provide temporary shelter to some of the city’s 4,000 homeless residents. City officials said each tiny home village could house up to 25 people.

Advocates for the homeless urged city leaders to support the plan, which is considered one of San Jose’s most innovative solutions to housing those in need, and to come up with more locations for the homes.

“When did we become so uncompassionate?” said Shirley Stager, 66, who works with several nonprofit agencies including PACT. “I read on Nextdoor people saying ‘Put all the homeless on a bus and take them to a remote area and dump them.’ What have we become?”

When the city began exploring the idea, council members had were asked to suggest sites in each of their districts. But only two did — Khamis and Chappie Jones.

San Jose housing officials identified 99 city-owned sites that met criteria of being city owned or leased land near transit and utilities as potential locations to consider for tiny homes. But after neighbors objected to placing the homeless near them, city officials added criteria to keep the sites away from homes, schools and parks. That pared the list to just four locations, but neighborhood opposition effectively eliminated one of those as well.

City housing officials Tuesday had initially suggested picking two potential city-owned sites for the tiny homes pilot.

Khamis and council members Dev Davis and Sergio Jimenez suggested eliminating city-owned land from consideration as potential options for tiny homes, and putting the villages on commercial or industrial land away from residences. Rocha supported that plan.

But Mayor Sam Liccardo said it’s disingenuous for San Jose to ask other public agencies to come up with suggestions for sites when the city refuses to use its own land.

“It’s important for us to hold ourselves accountable here,” Liccardo said, adding that using commercial or industrial land could add two years to the approval process. The mayor said the majority of homeless residents lived in San Jose before ending up on the streets and “they’re part of the community.”

Liccardo, along with Jones, Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco and council members Raul Peralez and Sylvia Arenas, authored the winning proposal to build no more than three tiny home villages citywide under a one-year pilot program. It included some provisions from Rocha’s proposal, including reaching out to other public agencies for site suggestions.

As part of that plan, the council agreed to send a letter to the county, Santa Clara Valley Water District and other public agencies to ask for help in finding land for the tiny homes. The city’s goal is to eventually place one tiny home village in each of San Jose’s 10 council districts.

Also Tuesday, the council directed housing officials to work with Destination: Home, a program of The Health Trust that combats homelessness, to possibly create a new homelessness task force.

Another major hurdle in San Jose’s quest to build tiny homes was public outreach. After releasing the initial list of 99 potential sites, housing leaders met with neighborhood groups — but not the general public. Housing director Jacky Morales-Ferrand said Tuesday that was “a terrible approach.”

Read the original report from The Mercury News.

Santa Cruz Public Library System Partners with The Health Trust to Offer Chronic Illness Self-Management Program

Chronic Illness Classes Start Aug. 5 in Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Public Library System has partnered with The Health Trust to bring the Better Choices, Better Health program to Santa Cruz at no charge, beginning Aug. 5.

Better Choices, Better Health is a six-week self-management program series provided by two trained community leaders.

These workshops are for anyone and/or their caretakers dealing with the challenges of living with chronic or ongoing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or high cholesterol.

Participants will learn about stress management, dealing with pain and fatigue, weight management, decision making and more.

In 2011-2012, about 24 percent of adults in Santa Cruz County were diagnosed with high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease, according to the Health Santa Cruz County 2015 Report.

Workshops take place 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from Aug. 5 through Sept. 9. Participants are requested to attend each session and registration is required. Information and registration: 408-961-9877 or

Read the original online report here.

Food is Medicine: Gov. Jerry Brown Approves $6M Pilot Program for Chronically Ill

Read the original press release.

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2017
FIMC (California) Contact: Delfin Vig, or (415) 259-1247
Senator McGuire Contact: Kerrie Lindecker, or (707) 319-3654
The Health Trust Contact: Paul Hepfer, or (408) 961-9845

Governor Jerry Brown approves ‘Food Is Medicine’ $6 million program for California’s chronically ill

Goal to enhance health outcomes expected to save taxpayers millions

Sacramento, CA – Governor Jerry Brown today approved a $6 million innovative healthy food pilot project for low income Californians with chronic health diseases. The Food Is Medicine based program, which drew staunch support from State Senator Mike McGuire, and State Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu, among other legislators, is expected to save taxpayers millions.

The $6 million project will be used over a three year pilot project period supporting a Food Is Medicine Coalition that includes Project Open Hand in San Francisco, Ceres Community Project and Food For Thought in the North Bay Area, The Health Trust in Santa Clara County, Project Angel Food in Los Angeles and Mama’s Kitchen in San Diego. The funds will target chronically ill Medi-Cal patients who suffer from congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or renal disease.

The funding for this pilot project is included in SB 97, a budget bill that was voted on and approved in the Senate on Monday afternoon (June 26) and signed into legislation by Governor Jerry Brown today (June 27).

The soon-to-be launched program is modeled off of work in Philadelphia by the organization Manna. There, the pilot project demonstrated after delivering three medically tailored meals each day to 65 patients with chronic diseases for six months, their healthcare costs dropped from $38,937 per month to $28,183 per month and were 55 percent lower than other groups in the study.

After working hand-in-hand with members of the statewide Food Is Medicine Coalition, Senator McGuire embarked on a crusade to get funding secured in the budget for a statewide pilot program to include medically-tailored, home-delivered meals that are appropriate for the individual’s chronic diseases. He described the work of coalition as “life changing.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to turn this local success story into a statewide program that will improve the health of those who need it most while reducing costs for taxpayers over the long term,” Senator McGuire said. “The bottom line: We believe, over the next three years, we’ll demonstrate enhanced health outcomes for chronically ill Medi-Cal patients and save millions in health care costs.”

California State Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu strongly supported funding for this medically tailored meals project. Chiu sponsored the budget ask in the state assembly subcommittee in support of food as medicine. Alongside Chiu was Assemblymember Blanca E. Rubio, among others who testified in support. State Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner were also vocal supporters of the project.

A key catalyst that drove funding for this new pilot project included the results of a UCSF/ Project Open Hand “Food Is Medicine” research study that evaluated the impact of a medically tailored meal program for San Francisco and Alameda County residents with Type 2 Diabetes, HIV and/or dual diagnosis. The results, published earlier this year in the peer- reviewed Journal of Urban Health demonstrated a significant reduction in hospitalization (63%), an increase in medication adherence (50%) and a drop in ER visits (58%).

What experts are saying about the medically tailored meal program:

“This is an exciting time for our agencies and those very vulnerable, critically ill Californians we serve. We are particularly thrilled that the California Legislature had the vision to launch the very first statewide, medically-tailored-meal program in the United States. California is once again leading the nation in the implementing low cost/high return medical interventions to improve the health of our most marginalized and underserved citizens.”

  • Mark Ryle, CEO Project Open Hand, San Francisco

“Los Angeles has the highest food insecurity rate in the country. This pilot program will go a long way to make sure that people who are sick and hungry can get the food that not only keeps them alive, but will help them heal. We applaud the State of California for being visionaries in reducing food stress in the state, while bringing down the cost of health care. With a medically tailored intervention, we expect health care costs to be reduced by at least 20 percent.”

  • Richard Ayoub, Executive Director, Project Angel Food, Los Angeles

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to demonstrate that we can improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable health-challenged California residents by providing medically tailored meals; and in doing so significantly decrease the cost of providing healthcare. A winning situation for all of California!”

  • Alberto Cortes, Executive Director, Mama’s Kitchen, San Diego

“High quality food is the missing piece of the puzzle for many patients, especially those on Medi-Cal who are often food insecure. We are grateful to Senator McGuire whose vision and leadership were critical to creating and forming this pilot project. The research is clear – when patients have enough healthy food, especially when it’s tailored to their illness, they feel better and they do better. This translates to less emergency room visits, shorter hospital stays, a greater ability to adhere to treatment – and all of that leads to lower healthcare costs.”

  • Cathryn Couch, CEO Ceres Community Project, Sonoma County

“We applaud our California lawmakers who had the vision and understanding that food truly does have the power to heal. By passing a budget that will fund further proof of this concept, we move closer to not only improving the health of hundreds of thousands of individuals, but the State stands to recognize enormous cost savings for decades to come.”

  • Paul Hepfer, Vice President of Programs, The Health Trust, Santa Clara County

“I am so pleased to see progress toward ensuring that the most critically ill patients have access to the food they need to stay healthy in their homes. Not only do these meals nourish, but they also hold promise for keeping people out of the hospital, preventing health crises, and allowing people to maintain independence at home.”

  • Hilary Seligman, MD PhD UCSF Global Health Sciences

The pilot project will track the utilization of the program closely, along with health outcomes, before, during and after the program has ended. At the end of the 3-year program, the Department of Health Care Services will evaluate what impact the program had on hospital readmissions, decreased admissions to long term care facilities, and emergency room utilization and will report the findings back to the legislature.


ABOUT THE FOOD IS MEDICINE COALITION (FIMC): The Food is Medicine Coalition (FIMC) is an association of nonprofit, medically tailored food and nutrition services (FNS) providers from across the country. The FIMC advances public policy that supports access to food and nutrition services for people with severe and/or chronic illnesses; promotes research on the efficacy of food and nutrition services on health outcomes and cost of care; and shares best practices in the provision of medically tailored meals and of nutrition education and counseling. Project Open Hand, Ceres Community Project, Project Angel Food, Mama’s Kitchen, Food For Thought and The Health Trust represent a California contingency of the Food Is Medicine Coalition.

To schedule in an interview with a representative of the Food is Medicine Coalition, please
contact Delfin Vigil at (415) 259-1247 or e-mail:

ABOUT THE HEALTH TRUST: The Health Trust is a nonprofit foundation building health equity in Silicon Valley. It ensures that health related grants, policies and services exist to support Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable communities. Helping people manage chronic conditions and providing nutritious food to those that need it most, has always been a priority of The Health Trust. Since its inception in 1996, The Health Trust has operated a Meals On Wheels program that delivers hot nutritious meals and offers wellness checks to seniors, adults with disabilities and individuals that are homebound. The Health Trust also provides evidence based chronic disease self-management programs designed to provide people living with chronic conditions the tools to live healthier and more independent lives. The Health Trust also operates The Jerry Larson FOODBasket that supplies our AIDS Services clients with the fresh and nutritious food needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit