Our partner, Aunt Bertha, recorded a total of 22.9 million searches for free or reduced cost services through their Social Determinants of Health platform this year. Our local site, CommunityRelay.com recorded nearly 4,000 searches since launching in March.
Top searches for Community Relay and Aunt Bertha have been consistent this year for resources surrounding food pantries, help paying for housing and utilities and even emergency food.
Food and housing insecurity have grown greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Feeding America, more than 80% of food banks are serving more people now than they did a year ago. In October alone, food banks distributed 50% more food than they did last year at the same time. As a result of the pandemic, one in six Americans could face hunger.
Locally, 19% of the searches on Community Relay have been for food. Programs like Food Bank for the Heartland, Salvation Army of Omaha, Open Door Mission and more have increased their services to help support the need by offering food delivery, food banks and more.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many have also struggled to be able to pay for rent or utilities and even find temporary shelter. According to a study done by Stout Risius Ross, 35% of renter households in Nebraska were unable to pay rent or were at risk of eviction this year.
In total, almost 50% of searches on Community were for free or reduced cost programs aiming to help people with daily needs of food or housing.
What can we do as a Network of providers facing this issue? The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends following the SEARCH method; screen, educate, adjust, recognize, connect and help.
These steps outlined here, can help you and your practice identify and connect with patients in need. Proactively helping our population of patients in need can help prevent further chronic issues and improve the lives of our population as a whole.
For more information on Community Relay and how you, your staff or your patients can use it, please contact us.