National Latino AIDS Awareness Day & CT’s Migrant Farmworkers

JennSucciPicNational Latino AIDS Awareness Day & CT’s Migrant Farmworkers

by Jennifer Succi, Program Coordinator

Autumn marks the transition from summer to winter in New England, and at first sight of changing leaves in bright red, orange, yellow and purple hues, many New Englanders are transported to thoughts of sipping warm apple cider, carving pumpkins and finding their way through corn mazes.

Connecticut is home to over 4,900 farms whose primary agricultural commodities include sweet corn, apples, tobacco, dairy and greenhouse nurseries. While these farms are the hub of many New England fall traditions, they are also the source of livelihood for the estimated 20,183 migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in Connecticut.

It is not a surprise that Migrant and Seasonal farm workers, a largely disenfranchised group within the United States, experience an increased risk for HIV. To paint a picture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 21% of new HIV infections in 2010, and represented almost 30% of new HIV infections within Connecticut.

Several of Connecticut’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) outreach to local farms to connect Migrant and Seasonal farm workers and their families with resources offered through the health centers, such as SNAP benefits screening, and help them to overcome any barriers or underlying fears that might impede their access to health care.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 marked National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, which encouraged community action. The theme, To End AIDS, Commit to Act, implored everyone to make a commitment to know the facts about HIV, get tested for HIV, and get into and stay in medical care if they have HIV.

On Wednesday, CHCACT tagged along with an Outreach Worker from Generations Family Health Center, to three Windham County farms. During these visits, the Generations Outreach Worker provided farm workers with supplies bags (handkerchiefs, sunglasses and sunscreen) and CHCACT program staff distributed English- and Spanish-language safer sex kits during the farm workers’ lunch time.

At each site, services pamphlets and resources were spread across a lunch table for workers to explore as they entered their lunch building.  Many of the farm workers were primarily Spanish speaking, and would ask Generations Outreach Worker questions about the safer sex supplies, which were deferred to CHCACT program staff. Some of the workers requested that Generations Outreach Worker deliver the safer-sex kit to them privately, hesitant of their peers’ judgment.

On Wednesday, CHCACT and Generations Outreach Worker reached almost 50 Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers with supplies and encouraged them to learn their HIV status.

As you carve your pumpkins and prepare your apple pies, remember the Connecticut migrant farmworkers who are helping to bring those products to your home. And see if you can help improve their access to health care.

Check out my photos from the day!IMG_0093IMG_0091IMG_0098

 

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Something for Everyone in Your Family: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

by Leah Tully

LeahTullyPicFor many families in Connecticut, the close of August marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. For the parents of school-aged children, returning to the classroom requires a long list of extras. School supplies need to be inventoried, forms need to be filled out, and a significant amount of time is spent ensuring that our children are prepared for the school year ahead.

Depending on your child’s tastes, and your local lunch menu, your child may purchase their lunch in the school cafeteria, or pack it and bring it from home. Either way, it’s important to make sure children have enough to eat during the day to fuel them both physically and mentally through their busy school day. For those families that need assistance gaining access to healthy food, both inside and outside of the cafeteria, there is help available.

According to the most recent report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), over 157,000 Connecticut students participated in the Free and Reduced Lunch program in the 2011-2012 school year. That’s more than half of all the Connecticut students who bought lunch that year. Did you know that Connecticut families who qualify to receive Free and Reduced Lunch may also qualify to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps)? The most recent data available from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that in 2013, SNAP helped 425,000, or 1 in 8 (12%) people in Connecticut purchase food. Of those receiving benefits, nearly 62% were in families with children.

Does your family qualify to receive SNAP benefits? SNAP Outreach Workers at Connecticut’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can help you find out if you qualify and help you apply. You can find more information about how to contact your local SNAP Outreach Worker in your student’s Back to School mailing packet. Or, by visiting the SNAP section of our website!

Leah Tully is CHCACT’s SNAP Program Coordinator.

Celebrating Larry Cross

Celebrating Larry Cross
By Evelyn Barnum, JD, CEO, CHCACT

LarryCrossFrom seed to blossom…and to fruit.

The atmosphere was celebratory May 16, 2014 at the farewell festivities to honor Larry Cross’s service to the Norwalk community during his decade as CEO of the Norwalk Community Health Center.  The success of Larry’s tenure as CEO can be measured by the doubling of patients and visits, the new services added (Ryan White funding for HIV/AIDS care, a new mobile van that travels to homeless shelters and public housing sites, dental services) or the beautiful and spacious new health center site at 125 Connecticut Avenue.  Larry Cross brought a tiny and struggling health center into the spotlight.  And literally into the HRSA Spotlight (http://bphc.hrsa.gov/spotlight/norwalkquality/index.html) by cutting costs and improving care.

But Larry’s most important accomplishment was to bring talented staff and community partners together around their commitment to NCHC’s patients.  The deep affection of the NCHC staff and community for the departing CEO was palpable.  There was clearly unanimous agreement that the best way to thank Larry Cross was to build on his legacy and continue to assure that NCHC is “great—not just good” .

John Gettings, NCHC CFO and now interim CEO, recited the poem by Dawna Markova that captures Larry Cross’s passion for making community health happen.

“I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”
―, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

There wasn’t anyone present who doesn’t hope Larry has a long and adventure-filled retirement but he will be dearly missed.

Video: UCONN Health Center’s Josh Clauser Walks Through snap4ct.org

Guest Post: Dr. Jewel Mullen, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health

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