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Kroger, Bayer team up to improve access to health, nutrition in rural America

Bayer and Kroger will support AgriSafe Network, an organization working to address health disparities in agricultural communities.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

Bayer is kicking off its campaign to remind rural America to “Take Care, Now” and help alleviate care deserts in rural America, areas significantly impacted by both food insecurity and limited access to health care.

Kroger and Luke Bryan are joining Bayer in its commitment to rural American communities. Bayer and Kroger will support AgriSafe Network, an organization working to address health disparities in agricultural communities. Their sponsorship will help to provide additional training to 50 nurses in local communities. AgriSafe Nurse Scholars are essential in rural areas, and equipping these nurses to address the unique occupational health risks of farmers and their families results in stronger, healthier communities.

Today, 90% of counties with the highest food insecurity rates are rural and rural communities represent nearly two-thirds of primary care health professional shortage areas in the country, the company noted.

[Read more: Kroger enters clinical trial business]

“Food, nutrition and health are interconnected, but across Americaespecially in rural America people don’t always have access to the food, health services and preventive care they need,” said 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.”

"At Kroger, we understand how important it is for everyone to have access to healthy food and health care,” said Jim Kirby, chief commercial officer of Kroger Health. “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.”

The need for Bayer and Kroger to help increase access to health and nutrition has never been greater:

  • More than 34 million Americans, including nine million children, experience food insecurity.
  • Over one third of the U.S. population lives in a county where there is less than adequate access to pharmacies, primary care providers, hospitals, trauma centers and/or low-cost health centers.

A new study from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Bayer, suggests fear factors have an impact on diagnoses and preventative care1 in 4 Americans would rather not know they have cancer and nearly one third (31%) of U.S. adults 18+ avoid doctor visits due to fear of what they might learn. Many American adults also said they are not very knowledgeable about key physical health topics including breast cancer (38%) and prostate cancer (49%).

“Farmers often are leaders in their communities and are critical to help close the food security gapworking every day to provide healthy and nutritious food around the country,” said Jacqueline Applegate, president of Bayer Crop Science North America. “However, farmers and others in rural communities often put the needs of others before their own. With our new campaign, we also want to remind them to take time to focus on their personal health, so they can take care of their communities.”

“Farmers are tasked with feeding the world while facing disproportionately high rates of job-related injury and illness,” said Natalie Roy, CEO of AgriSafe Network. “AgriSafe welcomes this opportunity to build the capacity of rural nurses to care for agricultural families. By investing in the education of nurses, Bayer and Kroger will increase positive health outcomes in rural America.”

[Watch DSN: Kroger Health’s Lindholz highlights importance of Food as Medicine platform]

As part of the “Take Care, Now” campaign, Bayer is hosting its annual #HerestotheFarmer initiative benefiting Feeding America during the Luke Bryan Farm Tour. Bayer will help provide one million meals to people experiencing hunger through the Feeding America network of food banks. With this year’s contribution, Bayer has donated more than seven million meals since the inception of its partnership with Feeding America.

“Millions of Americans do not know where their next meal will come from. These types of partnerships and initiatives are important in raising awareness and helping to address food insecurity, especially in rural communities where the impact is most significant,” said Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “We’re proud to be working alongside Bayer, Luke Bryan and Kroger to make an impact in these areas.”

The campaign also focuses on educating those in rural communities about the importance of understanding their risk for cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and prostate cancer. Ninety percent of people with kidney disease do not know they have it because the symptoms are silent. Two simple tests for kidney function and kidney damage are an easy way to assess your risk. A simple blood test called a PSA is used to screen for prostate cancer. People can learn more by visiting the Bayer Aspirin Heart Risk Assessment or Bayer’s partners, The National Kidney Foundation and Zero 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 Farm Progress Show, the largest outdoor farm event in the country, which took place in Decatur, Ill., in August. The experience also will be at all six Luke Bryan Farm Tour concerts, where Bayer is a presenting sponsor, and the Kroger Wellness Festival. To support the local communities at each “Take Care, Now” experience stop, AgriSafe Nurse Scholars will be directed to increase access to care in those areas.

In addition to joining Bayer in supporting AgriSafe Network, Kroger, through its family of pharmacies and clinics, provides access to a variety of health services in its stores and employs more than 24,000 healthcare professionalsfrom pharmacists, registered dietitians and nurse practitioners. Together, Bayer and Kroger provide customers with fresh, nutritious, affordable food and access to expert, credible health care. The campaign brings together both Bayer’s vision of Health for All, Hunger for None and Kroger’s belief that promoting long-term health and nutrition has the potential to improve community health.

For people who would like to learn more about the “Take Care, Now” campaign and are not able to attend one of the events, Bayer is encouraging supporters to visit online here. On the website, people also can access coupons to use at Kroger stores and sign up for a raffle to win Luke Bryan farm tour 2024 VIP tickets.

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