Request for Proposal for Meals on Wheels Vendor Released

The Health Trust Meals on Wheels program has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for vendors interested in providing hot meals, fresh meals and frozen meals for our Meals on Wheels clients (up to 100,000 meals annually).  The RFP responses are due January 31 by 5 p.m.

For questions regarding the Meals on Wheels program or this RFP, please contact, Teresa Johnson 408 961-9804.

Download RFP for Meals on Wheels Vendors.

The Health Trust makes changes to its Leadership Team

The Health Trust is glad to announce the following three changes to its Leadership Team: Paul Hepfer, former Vice President of Programs, has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Programs; Gustavo Caraveo, former Marketing Communications Manager, has been promoted to Director of Marketing & Communications; and Carlene Schmidt was recently hired as Director of Development.

To learn more about Paul, Gustavo and Carlene, please visit our Leadership Team page.

Bay Area Reporter: Statewide food program launches in CA

By Matthew S. Bajko |

A pilot program to feed low-income people with chronic illnesses after they have been discharged from the hospital is launching statewide this month in California. Proponents of the new initiative hope to prove it can keep those who are enrolled from being readmitted to the hospital, as well as save the state money on the cost of providing health care to the individuals.

The San Francisco-based Project Open Hand is acting as the lead agency on the new “Food is Medicine” initiative and has teamed up with other nonprofit providers of meal programs throughout the state. The coalition includes Ceres Community Project and Food For Thought in the North Bay, the San Jose-based Health Trust, and several organizations in Southern California.

“This is our next coming out party,” said Project Open Hand CEO Mark Ryle. “The state recognized our model is the right model for people with conditions such as diabetes and congestive heart failure all around California.”

State lawmakers last summer approved $6 million to launch the pilot program. The money will target 1,000 Medi-Cal patients, mainly in urban areas of the state, who have chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes.

“We had to go small at first because we want to get it right,” said Ryle. “This is a first-in-the-nation project. There has never been something like this before.”

Paul Hepfer, the senior vice president of programs for the Health Trust, expects to sign up 150 people in Santa Clara County over the coming months for the pilot program. The agencies involved and the state Department of Health Care Services have created specific enrollment criteria for who is eligible to participate, and referrals will come from hospitals and other health care providers.

The pilot is an extension of the food programs the Health Trust has provided for 25 years, said Hepfer. The agency helps feed 700 low-income South Bay residents through its Meals on Wheels program and the Jerry Larson Food Basket it runs.

“The years of providing these services to people with HIV and AIDS really helped us hone our skills and competency for what it takes to provide food and for using food as a medical intervention to help people be healthier,” said Hepfer. “It is not just to deal with food insecurity, it is helping people improve their health through good food nutrition.”

Richard Ayoub, a gay man who is the executive director of Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, expects his agency to enroll between 50 to 60 people per year into the pilot program. The preventative approach, he predicted, will keep people out of the hospital longer, keep them healthy longer, and result in saving money for the entire health care system.

“We are so thrilled and so excited about it,” said Ayoub. “It is going to be groundbreaking research. All eyes will be on California because we are leading the way with this type of research project. We have a very progressive, smart government that really wants us to help heal people.”

The program is officially known as the Medi-Cal Medically Tailored Meal Pilot Project. Those enrolled will receive three meals a day for three months, as well as consult with a dietician to ensure the meals are providing them the right nutritional support.

“When you get medically tailored meals, they actually help heal you because food is medicine,” said Ayoub.

The California pilot is modeled after efforts by the organization Manna in Philadelphia, whose own pilot project demonstrated that delivering three medically tailored meals each day for six months to 65 patients with chronic diseases reduced their health care costs from $38,937 a month to $28,183 a month.

“People who are food insecure or malnourished spend more time in the hospital and are more frequently hospitalized because they often don’t recover at home,” said Ron Karp, executive director of Food for Thought in Sonoma. “All those factors add a huge cost to their treatment, whereas food intervention is relatively inexpensive.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story last July when the funding for the California pilot program was approved, a key factor in winning support from state lawmakers was findings from the UCSF/Project Open Hand “Food Is Medicine” research study that examined the impact of a medically tailored meal program for San Francisco and Alameda County residents who had HIV, Type 2 diabetes, and/or dual diagnosis.

In early 2017, the Journal of Urban Health published the results, which demonstrated a 63 percent reduction in hospitalization, a 58 percent decrease in emergency room visits, and a 50 percent increase in medication adherence.

“It is not rocket science. Of course it does reduce health care costs. We have been saying this for years, but finally we got the science behind it,” said Ryle.

Project Open Hand Executive Chef Adrian Barrow, a gay man who has worked for the agency for nearly a decade, has been coordinating with his counterparts at the other agencies involved in the pilot project to tweak recipes for the meals they will be providing.

“We have been the leaders in trying to decide what the food and menus will look like,” said Barrow. “We have been sharing that information with the other agencies to make sure we are providing the same nutrition innovation in the study.”

One of the biggest changes in how Barrow and the other chefs decide what food to cook for the pilot is they have been closely consulting with dieticians to ensure each meal is medically tailored to meet the different health needs of each person in the program.

“We are following very strict guidelines,” said Barrow. “We are providing a certain amount of calories and nutrients beneficial to each client. These are not just meals that look and taste good. We are literally following guidelines useful to them.”

Should it prove to be successful, as the participating agencies expect it will, the program will be expanded to include agencies serving cities in the state’s Central Valley region. The state has agreed to increase the financing for the program to $35 million if the three-year pilot trial works.

“I don’t think the general population really understands the cost savings effective nutrition can provide in overall health costs. Poor nutrition is one of the biggest reasons why people are readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of being discharged,” said Hepfer with the Health Trust. “If they return home to little or no healthy food, often it is harder for them to maintain their medication regime, or take their medication, or have the strength to rehab properly. This is a low-cost intervention with a really high upside.”

The success of the California program could also prompt other states to follow suit, argued Hepfer, and take the model nationwide to not only reduce health care costs but also improve the health outcomes of their citizens.

“There just hasn’t been a robust enough research project with high enough numbers for us to really take this to payers like Medi-Cal and Medicaid and say here is the evidence behind this concept. Most studies to date have been slightly smaller than what we are doing,” said Hepfer. “With any intervention that becomes a covered benefit, you have to have proof. We are hoping this larger project will kind of be the final proof that this really works, we know that, and let’s invest in it and save a lot of money and help people be healthier.”

Most of the agencies involved were launched in the 1980s and 1990s to care for those living with HIV and AIDS. Once again, they are pioneering a new model to provide heath care to people in need.

“We are the little engine that could,” said Ayoub.

Read the original Bay Area Reporter article here.

The Health Trust Board of Trustees adds two new members: Camille Llanes-Fontanilla & Alexandria Felton

On December 13, 2017, The Health Trust Board of Trustees unanimously approved the addition of Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director of Somos Mayfair, & Alexandria Felton, Sr. Director of Health Policy for Silicon Valley Leadership Group, to the Health Trust Board of Trustees. Both Camille and Alexandria bring with them a diverse set of skills that will further strengthen the board.

Born, raised and having worked in San Jose, Camille has vast experience with the community we serve, what their needs are and how to meet those needs. As a nonprofit executive she has demonstrated an uncanny ability to organize communities and expand relationships with key stakeholders.

Alexandria brings with her an extensive history of researching and advancing public health policies. Her expertise in this field will help guide our local advocacy work and help provide context as to how state and federal health policies may affect our work locally.

Please join us in welcoming Camille Llanes-Fontanilla and Alexandria Felton to The Health Trust.

About Camille Llanes-Fontanilla
Camille Llanes-Fontanilla leads SOMOS Mayfair as the Executive Director. She joined the organization in 2010 and co-led the re-visioning of SOMOS Mayfair into an organization that combines community organizing with the best of traditional service provision. Camille is a skillful bridge-builder, maintaining and expanding relationships with key stakeholders, and securing millions of dollars for the Mayfair community. She has 12 years of experience in nonprofit management and has extensive executive training, including participation in Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.

Camille, born and raised in East San Jose, went to Mt. Pleasant High School where she was a youth leader. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San Jose State University. She continues to live in East San Jose with her husband and young son, and takes on many opportunities to work alongside community members in addressing our most pressing social justice issues.

About Alexandria Felton
Alexandria Felton is the Senior Director of Health Policy at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group where she directs the organization’s activities around health care and public health policy. Her work focuses on advancing policies and programs that improve health outcomes and reduce overall healthcare costs for employers and employees.

Alexandria serves on the Community Benefits Advisory Council for Stanford Children’s Health/Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the Traffic Safe Communities Network Steering Committee for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Prior to the Leadership Group Alexandria spent nearly five years at the RAND Corporation where she managed and coordinated research efforts focused on public health preparedness, healthcare quality, HIV/AIDS prevention and urban education. Alexandria remains passionate about addressing socio economic disparities in health care and improving quality of care.

Early in her career Alexandria worked as a public relations professional coordinating multi-national campaigns for technology and energy companies, including Unisys, HP, BP and the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. Alexandria holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master of Public Health Policy from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

The Health Trust Makes Health Partnership Grants Totaling $65,000

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2017
The Health Trust Contact: Maria Garcia, or (408) 513-8729

San Jose, CA, December 14, 2017 – On December 13, 2017, The Health Trust Board of Trustees approved two Health Partnership grants totaling $65,000 to support The Health Trust’s mission of building health equity in Silicon Valley. Specifically, the awarded grants will increase food access for low-income seniors in an identified area of need, and increase the consumption and affordability of fruits and vegetables of CalFresh individuals and families with children.

Breakdown of Grants

Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen
According to the Food for Everyone report, San Jose’s 95112 area (District 7) has a high number of low-income seniors with only one Senior Nutrition Program (SNP) provider nearby. In an effort to address this gap and through a $35,000 grant, Loaves & Fishes plans to pilot a congregate meal site in District 7 by serving 60 meals twice a week over a six-month period, targeting low-income older adults who are food insecure. In addition, through this pilot, Loaves & Fishes will determine whether they can become a SNP provider to expand its services to other SNP sites through a cost-effective, sustainable meal model that meets the County of Santa Clara’s nutritional standards.

In its Healthy Food Within Reach report, SPUR identified economic barriers as one of the biggest obstacles to accessing healthy food and as a result launched the Double Up Food Bucks program. This multi-year campaign seeks to establish a permanent supplement to the CalFresh program by matching CA grown produce purchases made by CalFresh recipients at supermarkets 1:1, up to $10. Entering its second phase and through a $30,000 grant, SPUR seeks to continue to collect critical data that will influence following phases of the campaign all while continuing to increase the consumption and affordability of fruits and vegetables of CalFresh individuals and families with children. If a permanent supplement is achieved, the project has the potential to impact all CalFresh recipients statewide.

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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. With regard to grants, The Health Trust prioritizes projects that meet the following criteria:

  • Bolsters health promotion and primary prevention efforts
  • Includes a system, policy, practice, or environmental change that can have an impact beyond the grant period
  • Includes a feasible sustainability plan
  • Follows promising and best practices

For more information, visit

The Guardian: The Silicon Valley paradox: one in four people are at risk of hunger

Exclusive: study suggests that 26.8% of the population qualify as ‘food insecure’ based on risk factors such as missing meals or relying on food banks

By Charlotte Simmonds

Karla Peralta is surrounded by food. As a line cook in Facebook’s cafeteria, she spends her days preparing free meals for the tech firm’s staff. She’s worked in kitchens for most of her 30 years in the US, building a life in Silicon Valley as a single mother raising two daughters.

But at home, food is a different story. The region’s soaring rents and high cost-of-living means that even with a full-time job, putting food on the table hasn’t been simple. Over the years she has struggled to afford groceries – at one point feeding her family of three with food stamps that amounted to $75 a week, about half what the government describes as a “thrifty” food budget. “I was thinking, when am I going to get through this?” she said.

In a region famed for its foodie culture, where the well-heeled can dine on gold-flecked steaks$500 tasting menusand $29 loaves of bread, hunger is alarmingly widespread, according to a new study shared exclusively with the Guardian.

One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers at the Second Harvest food bank have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population – almost 720,000 people – qualify as “food insecure” based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children.

“We call it the Silicon Valley paradox,” says Steve Brennan, the food bank’s marketing director. “As the economy gets better we seem to be serving more people.” Since the recession, Second Harvest has seen demand spike by 46%.

The bank is at the center of the Silicon Valley boom – both literally and figuratively. It sits just half a mile from Cisco’s headquarters and counts Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg among its major donors. But the need it serves is exacerbated by this industry’s wealth; as high-paying tech firms move in, the cost of living rises for everyone else.

Food insecurity often accompanies other poverty indicators, such as homelessness. San Jose, Silicon Valley’s largest city, had a homeless population of more than 4,000 people during a recent count. They are hungry, too: research conducted by the Health Trust, a local not-for-profit, found food resources available to them are scattered and inadequate.

Continue reading this article.

Mercury News: Project to add fluoride to East San Jose drinking water gains approval

By PAUL ROGERS | | Bay Area News Group

In the latest step toward the effort by dentists and health officials to end San Jose’s status as the largest city in America without fluoride in its drinking water, Santa Clara County has contributed $1 million to add fluoride for the first time to drinking water from wells operated by the San Jose Water Company.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to spend $1,027,713 from the county general fund to help install fluoridation equipment on six new wells being constructed by San Jose Water Company for customers of East San Jose.

“We wanted to start in East San Jose where the need is greatest because those residents and children have the least access to dental care and there are issues of rampant tooth decay,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The Health Trust will contribute $694,757 toward the $1.7 million project — $180,900 came from the city of San Jose. The nonprofit organization in San Jose funds Silicon Valley health programs, from diabetes testing to Meals on Wheels and children’s dental clinics.

The wells, planned for a five-acre lot at McLaughlin Avenue and Carnelian Drive, are scheduled to be finished by next summer, with the fluoride equipment installed and working by 2019.

Roughly 64 percent of California residents receive fluoridated water. San Francisco has had it since 1951, Oakland since 1976, Los Angeles since 1999 and San Diego since 2011. Other parts of Santa Clara County, such as Palo Alto, which receives water from the Hetch Hetchy system, are fluoridated.

A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride was first added to drinking water in Michigan in 1945 as a way to strengthen teeth and reduce cavities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called it “one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century,” citing studies that it reduces tooth decay by 25 percent.

On Tuesday, four people spoke in favor of the plan, and one against.

“Fluoride is naturally occurring, but so is lead and arsenic,” said Gary Wesley of Mountain View, a long-time fluoride opponent. “And you wouldn’t want to take that. There’s a better way to go and that is to invest your money in individualized care, through dental insurance.”

Todd Hansen, chief operating officer of the Health Trust, said his nonprofit group is helping fund fluoridation projects with a focus on East San Jose, rather than wealthier areas like Willow Glen.

“Bad teeth can cause all sorts of other diseases, and it can have a big impact on kids — their ability to learn and their ability to eat healthy,” Hansen said. The organization performs thousands of dental procedures every year for low-income children in the county, including 6,000 root canals a year for infants.

Overall, the scope of the new project is somewhat limited. Although officials from the Health Trust and Chavez’s office originally said it would serve 400,000 residents, officials from San Jose Water, which owns the pipes and sends the bills to customers, said the actual number is 95,000 people, or about 7 percent of its 1 million customers, according to Jayme Ackemann, a spokeswoman for San Jose Water.

Hansen said the Health Trust will continue raising money to expand fluoride to other wells in the years ahead, a strategy supported by Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody, the California Dental Association, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and others.

Overall, San Jose Water has 108 wells at 27 locations in Santa Clara County, and the six wells at the new site at McLaughlin Avenue will be the first to have fluoride added.

Studies by the Health Trust have concluded it would cost $23 million to connect fluoridation equipment to all 108 wells owned by San Jose Water, or $12 million for all the wells serving East San Jose.

Under a state law signed in 1995 by former Gov. Pete Wilson, water providers with more than 10,000 connections are required to add fluoride. But they were not mandated to pay for it, so they are only required when someone else puts up the money. Santa Clara County has set aside $4 million for fluoridation projects.

The reason that San Jose remains the largest U.S. city without broad fluoridation is largely due to San Jose Water. In 1964, San Jose voters approved adding fluoride to city water by a 59-41 percent margin. But San Jose Water, a for-profit company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, argued it shouldn’t have to pay the costs. The state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates privately owned water companies, in 1969 closed the case and did not require the company to fluoridate.

Today, San Jose Water provides water to 80 percent of San Jose’s residents, along with Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell and parts of Cupertino. Roughly 40 of the company’s supply comes from unfluoridated groundwater, 50 percent comes from water imported from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and 10 percent comes from local reservoirs.

Fluoridation advocates won a major victory in 2011 when the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the county’s water wholesaler, voted to add fluoride at its three drinking water treatment plants. The plants treat water from the Delta and sell it to San Jose Water and other retail providers. The first system went online last December at the Santa Teresa Plant, and the second went online this summer at the Penitencia Plant. The two plants are providing fluoridated water to 230,000 residents of in East San Jose, Almaden Valley and Santa Teresa who are customers of San Jose Water Company.

Work at the other treatment plant, Rinconada, is expected to be completed by 2020. Then, another 520,000 people will receive fluoride, including residents of West San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga and parts of Los Gatos.

But people who receive groundwater from San Jose Water Company have not had fluoride. As a result, in some areas, when that groundwater is blended with the Delta water from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, it has reduced levels of fluoride below the .7 parts per million recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The new project at McLaughlin Avenue will begin to change that.

“The addition of fluoride at these wells will allow us to maintain optimal levels of fluoride throughout the year for the residents who are receiving this water,” said Ackemann.

Read the original Mercury News article here.

World AIDS Day Benefit Dinner Celebrates Leaders

On the eve of World AIDS Day, The Health Trust, and over one hundred of its supporters, gathered to commemorate people living with HIV and those who have died from an AIDS-related illness, and to support The Health Trust AIDS Services.

Set at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, attendees learned about The Health Trust AIDS Services, the impact the program has on its clients, and were able to celebrate two leaders in the fight against HIV.

The Community Champion Award was presented to Bob Reed for his years of unwavering compassion, advocacy and service to people living with HIV/AIDS in Santa Clara County. Bob Reed currently serves as the Chairperson of the Santa Clara County HIV Commission. He’s been a member since 2004 when the Commission was named the Santa Clara County HIV Planning Council.

Dr. Larry Mc Glynn was presented with the Red Ribbon Award for his outstanding service to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Since 2000, Dr. Larry Mc Glynn has been the Director of the HIV Mental Health Programs at the Stanford University Positive Care Clinic and Valley Medical Center’s PACE Clinic, located in San José. During that time he has also served as a Professor at the Stanford School of Medicine. Needless to say, Dr. Mc Glynn has had a positive impact on thousands of lives in Santa Clara County and we are so fortunate to have him working in our community.

The Health Trust World AIDS Day Benefit Dinner was only made possible because of the generous support of all attendees and the generosity of the event sponsors. This year’s sponsors included: Gilead; Heritage Bank of Commerce; Pentarisk Insurance Services; Santa Clara Family Health Plan; and SEI Investments Company.

For over 20 years The Health Trust AIDS Services has fought to help people living with HIV/AIDS. We are honored and grateful for all of the support we’ve received over the years.

Click here to view photos from the World AIDS Day Benefit Dinner.