Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has partnered with The Kroger Co. to help prevent food and health care “deserts” in rural America.
Under the “Take Care, Now” campaign, Bayer said Monday, the companies will support AgriSafe Network, an organization targeting health disparities in agricultural communities, to improve access to food and health services. Among other efforts, the Bayer-Kroger sponsorship will provide additional training to and help equip 50 nurses in local communities through AgriSafe Nurse Scholars, which address the occupational health risks of farmers and their families in rural communities.
Currently, 90% of counties with the highest food insecurity rates are rural, and rural communities represent nearly two-thirds of U.S. primary care health provider shortage areas, Whippany, New Jersey-based Bayer U.S. reported.
What’s more, Bayer and Kroger noted that the need to boost access to nutrition and health care has “never been greater,” as over 34 million Americans (including 9 million children) experience food insecurity, and more than a third of the U.S. population lives in a county with inadequate access to pharmacies, primary care providers, hospitals, trauma centers and/or low-cost health centers.
“At Kroger, we understand how important it is for everyone to have access to healthy food and health care,” Jim Kirby, chief commercial officer at Kroger Health, the supermarket giant’s health care arm, said in a statement. “Farmers play such an important role in bringing fresh food to families across the U.S., and we look forward to working with Bayer to improve their access to high-quality health care.”
As part of the “Take Care, Now” campaign, Bayer is hosting its annual #HerestotheFarmer initiative for Feeding America during country music star Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour. Bayer will help provide 1 million meals to people experiencing food insecurity through the Feeding America network of food banks. With this year’s contribution, Bayer has donated more than 7 million meals since the inception of its partnership with Feeding America.
The “Take Care, Now” campaign also focuses on educating people in rural communities about the need to understand their risk for cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and prostate cancer.
To raise awareness of care deserts, Bayer and Kroger are kicking off a “Take Care, Now” experience at events this fall, starting with the Farm Progress Show, the largest outdoor farm event in the country. The experience will also be at all six Luke Bryan Farm Tour concerts, where Bayer is a presenting sponsor, and at the Kroger Wellness Festival. To support local communities at each “Take Care, Now” experience stop, AgriSafe Nurse Scholars will be directed to raise access to care in those areas.
“Food, nutrition and health are interconnected, but across America—especially in rural America—people don’t always have access to the food, health services and preventive care they need,” commented Sebastian Guth, president of Bayer U.S. and Pharmaceuticals North America. “We’re proud to support rural communities where our employees live and work, and where we do business.”
Kroger Health offers access to a range of health services at its more than 2,700 stores, 2,250 pharmacies and 225 clinics, employing over 24,000 health care professionals—from pharmacists and nurse practitioners to pharmacy technicians and registered dietitians.