January 26, 2021
The University of North Florida and Humana Inc., a leading health and well-being company, announce a strategic partnership that will focus on creating new initiatives to improve the whole health of individuals in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by addressing health-related social needs. The collaboration builds on the work the two organizations, along with other community partners, have already begun as part of Humana’s Jacksonville Bold Goal to improve the health of the community by 20 percent.
Initially, Humana and UNF will collaborate on projects that address food insecurity among older adults. According to a recent Feeding America report, more than 37 million people in 2018 were food insecure, which means they had limited access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity has negative effects for individuals across the lifespan. For older adults, social risk factors like food insecurity can be particularly problematic given the unique health, economic and nutritional challenges that can come with aging.
“UNF shares our commitment to identifying and solving the needs, risk factors and social determinants of health that impact our community,” said Dr. John Montgomery, Humana’s Lead Market Medical Officer and Jacksonville Bold Goal Co-Chairman. “The University has been an engaged partner in our Bold Goal work since the beginning, and we are excited to advance our collaboration on programs that will truly move the needle on community health. In addition, we’re confident that, together, we’ll be able to build programs and identify resources that will benefit markets across the country.”
To support food security among homebound older adults in Northeast Florida, Humana and UNF will collaborate to expand the University’s Meals on Wings program by increasing the number of older adults who receive meal assistance. Developed by the UNF Center for Nutrition and Food Security, the Meals on Wings program recovers food from area hospitals that would normally be wasted and repackages the food into healthful meals. The meals are then delivered to older adults on the waitlist for Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wings uses student volunteers to recover food, prepare the meals and deliver them to participants.
“Strategic public-private partnerships like this are critical for supporting and enhancing community health,” said Dr. Curt Lox, Dean of the UNF Brooks College of Health. “Brooks College of Health is intensely focused on the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities, and our work with Humana exemplifies these efforts. It is my hope that the educational, research and clinical outcomes associated with these projects will benefit, not only our local community, but communities throughout the country.”
In addition to the expansion of the Meals on Wings program, UNF is collaborating with Humana to develop a food insecurity screening tool that is tailored specifically for older adults. The objective of the project is to identify components of nutrition functioning in relation to food security and health in older adults and translate those findings into a Nutrition Function and Food Security tool that will be validated for use in healthcare settings and senior program providers.
UNF’s Center for Nutrition and Food Security serves as a gateway to the University for non-profit agencies, government programs, professional organizations, and industry personnel to explore solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition.