Nourishing Immigrant and Refugee Neighbors through The ZONE Community Health Worker Partnership

Lupe, a community health worker with Latinos en Spokane, packs boxes of fresh food for families with Stevie Rabben, ZoNE Family Advocate.

Access to healthy foods is critical to healthy kids and thriving families. The ZoNE has formed a partnership with World Relief, Latinos en Spokane, and CHAS Health to increase access to healthy foods with our local immigrant and refugee communities across Spokane County through the efforts of community health workers. Together with our amazing food partner, Second Harvest, we are removing barriers and increasing access to food by delivering fresh, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein items to the doorsteps of families with children in the household, as well as connecting families to food banks and food programs through a major investment by the Safeway and Albertsons Foundation.

Many Spokane immigrants and refugees who were on the path to stability have been suddenly derailed by the pandemic. COVID 19 has had a disproportionate economic and health impact on Latino and Marshallese families, as well as other communities of color. Language, cultural and income barriers make it difficult to navigate the system and access Covid relief funds and resources. And many food distributions do not provide culturally preferred foods, so we are working to improve access, listen and create change through our Partnership of Community Health Workers (CHWs).

CHWs, also referred to as community ambassadors, trusted messengers, “comadres,” or cultural connectors, are people with lived experience, language skills, and special cultural knowledge who can build trust with their neighbors, identify assets and challenges, and connect families to resources that can help families stabilize during this COVID 19 crisis. Our model brings together CHWs from multiple immigrant communities and organizations to build relationships, trust, and share information and resources. We are learning, growing, and creating relationships that build resident leadership, family stability, reduce stress, and create a lasting impact in our community. We look forward to supporting all our partner organizations in building their capacity to employ and train CHWs. Together with food partners like Second Harvest, we are stronger and can increase trust and social connections in Northeast Spokane!