Medi-Cal Capacity Grant Program

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Please Note: There is limited remaining funding for Partners for Healthy Food Access grants in Santa Cruz County.

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The Alliance’s Partners for Healthy Food Access (Food Access) Program supports innovative partnerships between health care providers, community-based organizations and/or government agencies to decrease food insecurity in the Medi-Cal population in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced counties. This program is in the Healthy Eating and Active Living focus area.

Impact of Food Insecurity on Health

Food insecurity, which is defined as lack of access to enough affordable, nutritious food for an active healthy life, has been identified as a critical issue for Alliance members. A 2016 member survey found over half of members reported living in food insecure households. Lack of access to nutritious food, which is directly tied to low-income status and economic instability, may be one of the most significant social determinants of health Medi-Cal members face, resulting in poor health outcomes and reduced quality of life. Adults and children living in food insecure households are likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly, and be hospitalized more frequently. Lack of adequate healthy food can impair a child's ability to concentrate and perform well in school and is linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems from preschool through adolescence. Among pregnant women, food insecurity is associated with physical and mental health problems, as well as birth complications. Food insecurity is associated with higher risk of chronic disease in adults.

The Role of the Health Care Sector in Addressing Food Insecurity

Health care providers are increasingly taking on a new role in addressing social determinants of health, such as food insecurity. Food insecurity is a complex but preventable condition in need of innovative, multi-sector solutions among health care providers, community-based organizations, government agencies and the private sector. Each partner has a significant role to play in implementing innovative solutions. Health care settings are uniquely positioned as places where Medi-Cal members burdened by food insecurity can be identified and supported. Better physical and economic access to healthy food increases the likelihood that Medi-Cal members will eat healthier, maintain healthier weights and have positive health outcomes.

Types of Funded Projects

Grants can be used to support costs associated with the implementation of innovative food security projects that directly serve the Medi-Cal population and support the Food Access Program purpose. The Food Access Program provides one-time funding for promising new programs that aim to create sustainable changes in member health status and long-term impact in improving food insecurity for Medi-Cal members. Funding is not intended for emergency food distribution only.

This funding opportunity requires:

Multi-sector partnerships (e.g. health care, community-based organizations, government agencies, civic organizations, businesses) to meet local food security needs in each county;
An integral role for the health care provider in addressing food insecurity;
A focus on detection and reduction of food insecurity;
Making nutritious food accessible to Medi-Cal members;
Connecting Medi-Cal members to community resources, such as CalFresh and WIC, that would have a long-term positive impact on members’ food security; and
Building Medi-Cal member knowledge and skills to have a healthy diet (e.g., nutrition education, shopping for and preparing healthy food, growing food).

Examples of projects that could be considered include:

Clinic and food bank partnership screens for food insecurity, brings a mobile market to the clinic site and provides a toolkit for accessing CalFresh.
Health care provider implements program with health navigators and a community-based organization to provide food insecurity screening, nutritious food box distribution, and tracks referral utilization.
Health care provider writes a “prescription for produce” redeemable at farmers’ market or onsite “food pharmacy” and provide nutrition education for individuals identified as food insecure through screening.
Clinic partners with local chefs/culinary school for healthy cooking demonstrations and multi-day cooking courses taught by chef and nutrition educator, with take-home food and meal planning support materials.
Health care provider partners with community organization to lead grocery store tours with subsidized purchase of healthy foods, nutrition education and budgeting skill-building for patients identified as food insecure.
A community garden/farm with onsite food distribution in conjunction with nutrition education delivered by health care provider.

Eligible Applicants

To be considered for Food Access Program funding, applicants must meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the Medi-Cal Capacity Grant Program (see Eligibility Guidelines) and the following:

Applicants must be a contracted Alliance provider or 501(c)(3) nonprofit or governmental entity that provides services to a significant volume of Medi-Cal members in the Alliance service area.
Additional types of partners not listed above may be involved in the project but could not serve as the applicant (e.g., businesses, for-profit housing developments).
A single applicant is limited to Food Access Program funding for one project, which may be implemented at more than one site.
One organization must serve as the applicant/grantee organization.
Serving as the applicant for one project would not prohibit an entity from also serving as a partner on another Food Access funded project.

Funding Amount and Term

The Alliance will consider funding projects up to $200,000 per grant, but may offer partial support for projects starting at a smaller scale to ensure successful implementation. Project timelines should be no more than 24 months. Project timelines are defined as the date the project scope of work begins (after grant award date) to the date of project completion.

Funding will be considered for expansion of projects already in progress, however, activities completed or costs incurred prior to approval of the grant request by the Alliance will not be considered. A project budget may contain costs for more than one site. Indirect costs are not eligible expenses and should not be included in the project budget.

Examples of eligible expenses include:

Personnel expenses (salary and benefits) for one or more FTEs with direct responsibilities for the project.
Consultants and vendor costs for project start up and/or implementation of project.
One-time cost to develop reporting and/or EHR templates to capture food insecurity screening data.
Cost of nutritious food and distribution.


Visit How to Apply for deadlines, instructions, and online application form.

Applications require submission of current fiscal statements. This includes Statement of Financial Position (i.e. balance sheet) and Statement of Activities (i.e. profit and loss). Audited financial statements for the past two completed fiscal years are also required (or rationale if not audited).


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