pictured here with Alberto Cortés, Mama’s Kitchen ED; Cathryn; Richard Ayoub, Project Angel Food CEO; and Mark Ryle, Project Open Hand CEO.
I'm writing with some very exciting news. Ceres Community Project - along with five other organizations - will be helping California evaluate the benefits of medically-tailored meals for people with serious illness.
We've already received numerous calls from supporters who read about this project in our local paper, and we want to make it clear that while the amount budgeted for the pilot was $6 million dollars, that entire amount has not been designated for Ceres. There are 6 groups involved in the pilot, and it's not yet clear how much of that funding will be allocated to Ceres to allow us to reach more clients. We want to make it clear that for service to our existing clients, we do--and will continue to--rely on your support.
The state legislature has approved a three year pilot project to provide meals to Medi-Cal patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and renal disease. Department of Health Care Services will then evaluate how meal support effects hospitalizations, emergency room visits, health status, and overall health care costs.
Our estimate is that the $6 million investment the state is making will save nearly $14 million in Medi-Cal costs - while helping patients feel better and get better. The goal is to change Medi-Cal policy so that meal support would be considered an "essential health benefit" that is reimbursed by insurance. If that happens, we'll improve food access for millions of our most vulnerable neighbors, improving their chances of getting and staying well.
I want to acknowledge Senator Mike McGuire, who I met with last November to talk about the benefits of medically-tailored meals. Senator McGuire got it immediately and when we met again in January, he proposed requesting state funds for a pilot project - something no one across the country had thought of.
I reached out to our colleagues - Mama's Kitchen in San Diego, Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, Project Open Hand in San Francisco, Health Trust in Santa Clara, and Food for Thought here in Sonoma County. Each of these agencies specializes, like Ceres, in providing high quality meals that are specifically designed to meet the needs of people who are ill.
Working together - and with Senator McGuire's leadership - we began meeting with key members of the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittee's, staff at the Department of Healthcare Services, and folks in the Governor's office. Ultimately the Senate voted to include the funding in their budget, the Budget Conference Committee carried the item forward to the full budget, and Governor Brown signed it this week.
You might be surprised to realize that Ceres is involved in this kind of policy work. But ultimately, our goal is to reconnect food to health - to prevent and address illness. Policy change will enable Ceres, and our colleagues across the state, to serve many more people. And it helps educate the health care and health insurance industries about the vital role that healthy food plays.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to understand more. I promise to keep you updated as we move forward.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of Ceres. Because of you, every day our neighbors in need are sitting down to a healthy meal made with love. Our youth are experiencing their value and power to make a difference in the lives of others. And now we have the potential to expand this work to help many more people. We could not do this work without your partnership and financial support.
Founder & Executive Director
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Ceres is a Roman goddess of agriculture. The Universal Mother, she symbolizes unconditional love and is considered the most generous of all the goddesses. The offering of food to others is central to the Ceres archetype. Ceres also represents the cycles of birth, death and renewal – and the experience of grief and loss that accompany them. She provides spiritual sustenance and faith that life will be reborn.
Ceres is associated with collaboration – allowing mutual efforts to flourish and discovering creative responses through combining our efforts with others. She embodies the concrete awareness of ourselves as having an effect on the environment where we live. Interdependence, self-esteem, caring, sharing, and adapting to changing circumstances are all part of Ceres’ archetypal gifts.