Lakewood Health has been named a Trailblazer by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota for its food access initiatives, which have been shown to reduce ER visits, improve quality of life and improve mental health.

Lakewood Health System was recognized by Blue Cross as part of a Trailblazer Tour last week in Staples.

Leaders from Blue Cross, Lakewood and the community gathered on Thursday, June 6, for an award ceremony and an engagement session to discuss collaboration for better community health. Leaders in attendance included: Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota President and CEO Craig Samitt; Lakewood Health President and CEO Tim Rice; Todd County Commissioners Barbara Becker and Rod Erickson; Todd County Health and Human Services Director Jackie Och; Todd County Sheriff Steve Och; and Outreach Director Jacki Anderson for Congressman Colin Peterson. A wide variety of stakeholders from nonprofit and area businesses were also in attendance.

LHS Working to Address Food Insecurity

Lakewood physicians conduct a social determinant of health screening on patients. Those who are food insecure have access to the following resources based on their screening results:

• "Acute care packs" (food box) that fulfill 72 hours' worth of need and includes three recipe cards to help participants utilize the contents of the box.

• Community health workers to help access/navigate food resources

• Food Farmacy - ability to pick up food monthly or bi-weekly (depending on need identified in SDOH screening). Food can be medically tailored.

• Fresh food delivery - monthly shares of lean meat and fresh produce delivered year-round to certain residential facilities. Partnership with six local growers.

More than 800 people are served monthly, totaling more than four tons of food.