RISE UPdates June 2022 Newsletter

Check out the June 2022 Newsletter! Save the Date for the Quarterly Coalition Meeting, September 13 at 10 AM.

RISE Cowley partnered with two community agencies to secure $33,000 in grant funds as a part of the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) initiative.

RISE Cowley is a coalition of like-minded organizations dedicated to making Cowley County a healthier place to live, work, and play.

Legacy Regional Community Foundation was awarded $18,000 to create mini-documentaries highlighting health inequities faced by county citizens. A team of nonprofit frontline service providers will lift up narratives detailing gaps in the county safety net system, as well as bright spots and strengths. The documentaries will focus on social determinants of health, mental health, substance abuse, and equitable access to healthy food.

The Community Health Center in Cowley County was awarded $15,000 to provide software support to nonprofit service organizations to help them track client needs and use of their services. Community organizations such as Eagle Nest Inc. and Angels in the Attic will utilize the software to collaborate and show impact. The Community Health Center will work with these nonprofits to expand use to other safety-net organizations in the county.

The two grants are part of $200,000 in funds BCBSKS has earmarked for RISE Cowley over the next two years. These funds help move forward healthy initiatives in Cowley County and further the implementation of the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment plan.

The Cowley Farmer’s Market Association (CFMA) successfully wrapped up the 2021 market season. The Winfield Walnut Valley Farmer’s Market was open Saturday mornings from May-September, while the Ark City Farm and Art Market operated on Tuesday evenings, June-September. 

The association partnered with K-State Research and Extension Cowley County to allow vendors to accept various forms of food assistance at the markets to benefit local families in need.

Cowley County has 1,960 households receiving food assistance, the 10th highest county of need in Kansas. The CFMA instituted acceptance of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) in 2020 and expanded to participate in the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program in 2021. Both SNAP and DUFB are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. SNAP provides nutrition benefits to needy families so that they can purchase healthy foods; the DUFB program allows customers to get a dollar-for-dollar match on fresh produce up to $25 per market day, helping to stretch benefits even further.

A group of 18 vendors was able to accept SNAP benefits, and 13 of these vendors sold produce that qualified for DUFB. A total of 135 customers utilized SNAP benefits at the markets this summer and $4,632 of food assistance funds were redeemed. These are impressive values for a community of Cowley’s size.

“Our community has opportunities to expand food access,” Becky Reid said, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for K-State Research and Extension. “I commend the vendors and volunteers who are committed to promoting local foods. The Double Up Food Bucks program helps promote fruit and vegetable consumption.”