August 5, 2022
The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) was honored in July with a 2022 Innovative Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). This national award celebrates local health departments for developing innovative programs to meet the needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CPHD and two community partners were recognized for creating a program that addresses food insecurity among residents in isolation or quarantine.
“During the pandemic we learned that some residents with COVID-19 had no one to shop for them, and paid home delivery was too costly,” said Rachael Cross, MS, RD, LDN, a Cambridge Public Health Department nutritionist. “Cambridge needed a system that could identify COVID positive residents at risk of food insecurity, and get groceries and supplies quickly delivered to their homes.”
The health department, in partnership with Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) and Food For Free, designed the Pandemic Food Insecurity Program in just under four weeks. It launched in December 2020.
Through the program, public health contact tracers identify residents with food needs during routine COVID-19 “check in” calls. The information is shared electronically with CEOC staff who then package food, gift cards, and other supplies. Food For Free makes the home deliveries. So far, over 180 Cambridge households have received food packages through the program.
“This program has helped ensure that no residents affected by COVID-19 are left without help when they and their families need food or other resources,” said Tina Alu, executive director of CEOC. “This experience also showed us what can be accomplished when incredible organizations come together to solve a pressing health need.” There were three categories of NACCHO Innovative Practice Award winners: gold, silver, and bronze. The Cambridge Program was a bronze winner. The designation as a Bronze Innovative Practice demonstrates a high level of program innovation and reflects the collaboration, adaptability, and program resilience.
Read more about the 2022 Innovative Practice Award winners.
The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) is a city department administered by Cambridge Health Alliance. CPHD protects and promotes the health of everyone in Cambridge through services, information, policies, and regulations. As a nationally accredited health department, CPHD meets rigorous national standards for delivering quality programs and services to the community. Main focus areas are communicable disease prevention and control, emergency preparedness/community resilience, environmental health, epidemiology, population health, regulatory enforcement, and school health.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.
Susan Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer