The Imperial County Social Services Department is starting a program to teach healthy options in partnership with the Public Health Department’s already existing pilot project.
The project approved Tuesday is supplemental to the Public Health Department’s program, said James Semmes, social services director. The program is geared toward participants in the state’s food stamp program, CalFresh.
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Though the project is only scheduled now until Sept. 30, it could continue into next year, Semmes said. For now the department plans to use its own staff to work on identifying the low-income program users. It will result in a decrease in the county costs as some of the employees working on the program will be funded through the pilot project.
“It’s kind of a win-win,” he said. “We will be doing a really good thing for the county of Imperial … and we will be saving county dollars.”
Hopefully the project will be an ongoing effort to increase health, said Robin Hodgkin, public health director. It will contribute to making long-standing changes to the county’s program.
The Public Health Department started its program in December.
The program includes multiple components, one of which is public health training social services workers to teach health, Hodgkin said.
Allowing social services staff to be involved in the education component will let them see the changes the program provides, Semmes said.
The departments will also work with the community in general, as well as individual families within the CalFresh program, about how to make healthier choices, Hodgkin said. It will include training with recipe sessions and supermarket training.
“All of our families are very challenged, being short on time and activities …,” she said. “It’s hard to say how are we going to provide healthy options when we’re short on money.”
This area isn’t like urban areas with farmers markets and health food stores, she said. People have asked how they can make healthy choices for their families. What the public health and social services departments will be doing is showing what steps can be taken to lead a healthier life.