Community Health Centers of the Central Coast Wins 2022 Supporting the Safety Net Award

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jeff Van Ness, (202) 204-7515


WASHINGTON—Today, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) presented its 17th annual Supporting the Safety Net Award to Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC), a community not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing health care services for residents in San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County on California’s central coast, with an emphasis on adequately supporting the medically underserved.

The organization was recognized for its innovative programming that mitigated the spread of COVID-19 among agriculture workers while at the same time addressed social determinants of health such as access to nutritious food. CHC’s interventions serve as a model to supply necessary resources to at-risk populations disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic including homeless individuals, public housing residents, school-based children, and migrant and seasonal farm workers.

To better protect Latine/x agriculture workers’ health, CHC collaborated with community organizations to implement programming that included COVID-19 education in the farmworkers’ native languages, including Spanish and Mixteco, and distributed more than 5,000 free “COVID Care Kits” and more than 20,000 face masks. COVID-19 also exacerbated the prevalence of food insecurity among low-income individuals and families. CHC fielded calls, predominantly from agriculture workers, who lacked reliable access to nutritious foods. Accordingly, CHC ramped up their weekly food shares from two to four and delivered more than half a million pounds of food to residents in need. CHC worked with local organizations to ensure that recipients knew how to prepare the meals.  Along with food insecurities, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the need for timely, trusted health education. In 2020, CHC’s behavioral health outreach team collaborated with Community Health Workers of the Santa Barbara County Promotores Network to implement a health education program in the county.

Finally, CHC serves people who are often overlooked by the health care system, providing people who belong to underserved communities with an avenue for receiving quality medical care. In 2021, more than 1 in 3 CHC patients had a low income. Additionally, nearly 1 in 3 were children, 8 percent of patients were unhoused, and 13 percent were uninsured.

“At a time where everyone is impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy for providers to wait until patients arrive with an issue to take action,” said Marina Owen, Chief Executive Officer, CenCal Health. “But the providers at CHC implemented solutions preventatively to keep our community safe and healthy, even in the midst of a pandemic.”

“Engaging with community organizations is essential to health plans maximizing their resources to make sure their members have the best possible access to high-quality care,” said ACAP CEO Meg Murray. “We are honored to recognize CHC for their commitment to supporting the most vulnerable members of the populations they serve and their willingness to do what it takes to improve the health of their community.”

The “Supporting the Safety Net” award recognizes a community-based organization or individual that has implemented exemplary, inventive programs to meet the health needs of high-risk populations and that can serve as a model of best practices for other communities. It was presented at ACAP’s CEO Summit in Washington, D.C.

About ACAP:
ACAP represents 74 health plans, which collectively provide health coverage to more than 20 million people. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly sponsored health programs. For more information, visit

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