United Way of Merced County is building healthier, more resilient communities by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, expanding access to quality health care and integrating health into early childhood development.



 Healthy Communities

Are Strong Communities



Good health is both a community responsibility and a community benefit: It goes beyond the individual choices we make. Its roots are in the neighborhoods we build and environments we inhabit. Being healthy isn’t just about personal diet and exercise choices. Healthy communities are ones that maintain parks and bike paths all across town, where all kids have access to safe playgrounds, eat healthy meals at school and engage in physical activity after school. Healthy communities support social innovations, like farmers’ markets in low-wage neighborhoods to offer more access to fresh food.  Healthy communities are free of environmental toxins, where everyone has access to good medical care. Healthy communities foster an active lifestyle and encourage people to care for and support each other.

Helping people make choices that promote healthy lifestyles and broadening access to health care are only part of the solution. United Way is creating solutions that help everyone thrive, creating healthier communities that improve our collective quality of life.

The following represent the HEALTH activities and/or programs UWMC is funding or currently involved in:

UW-USPCerebral Palsy Association of Merced County- The program helps those with sever physical impairments that often require special equipment and services which may not fall within the scope of regular social agencies.  Their families find themselves in need of support during times of “trial”(medical intervention).  Cerebral Palsy Association provides support for these families, as well as support for therapeutic, educational, artistic, and physical education activities and programs that promote self-esteem issues, encourage independent living skills, teach social skills, and promote therapeutic involvement.  

UW-foodEmergency Food Program-Dos Palos Youth in Crisis and Outreach the Emergency Feeding Program provides food and food security to the residents of the most depressed areas of the state of California.

Our geographical area has one of the largest populations of unemployment and poverty level families which will continues to increase at an alarming rate due tour economic situation and the drought.

This program meets the needs of all who are having a problematic time making ends meet and must rely on an emergency food provider to help them through until the can get other assistance by providing a place that people can come to under hardship circumstances to receive healthy; nourishing emergency food to feed their families.

Helping to completely see that extreme food insecurity; obesity and malnutrition is stomped out in our geographical area by providing a place that people can come to under hardship circumstances to receive healthy nutritional food.


UW-MCfoodbankMerced County Food Bank: Emergency Feeding, The emergency food providers (EFP) of Merced and Mariposa County receive almost 100% of their emergency food supplies through the Merced County Food Band (MCFB). The MCFB secures and supplies fresh, frozen, processed and commodity foods to all emergency food providers to serve more than 40, 000 unique persons per month.  The program is striving to provide more fresh nutritious fruit, and  vegetables.

Inadequate food supply results in more hunger and poorer health for the needy. A nutritious diet will help to cut down on public support of medical expenses.

UW-bethelLos Banos Emergency Assistance, Bethel Community provides food boxes, hot meals, encouragement and references to other service providers in our community so that as much help as possible can be rendered to those who are in need.An emergency food distribution is done every Friday and on an emergency basis to those in need. A well balanced hot meal is served every Friday to the general public who live in poverty.

Our community is one of the highest in poverty and unemployment.

Bethel Community provides nutritional; healthy food boxes and hot meals; thus allowing the recipients to provide healthy; wholesome; nutritious meals; thus eating healthier; learning to change their diets and making healthier choices.Bethel Community provides and works with other organizations to help those genuinely in need to receive as much available assistance.Bethel Community provides food assistance and refers them to other organizations; wherein; they can learn how to make healthier choices and live healthier lives.

UW-UC-food_pantry_logo_0The UCM Food Pantry program, through partnership with Merced County Food Bank and USDA, provides healthy food for students and income-eligible community members unable to make ends meet. The food provided, whether for 1 individual, or increased amounts for larger households, assures the recipients they will have food and removes the worry of needing to skip meals.

The program also provides education about safe food handling, cooking and storage tips etc. Students and community members have been negatively impacted by the recent economic instability. Students face rising tuition, housing, and academic-related costs, and both anecdotal and student self-report studies identify students facing a shortfall. The resulting stress causes many students to make poor choices, including skipping meals.

Community members report cuts to their SNAP funds and rising grocery costs making it more and more difficult to provide good food for their families and themselves.


MercedUW-Crime Stopers Area Crime Stoppers allows a person(s) who has knowledge of criminal activity to report that activity to authorities and eliminate any fear of reprisal by perpetrator of the crime by never identifying themselves to the program or any authorities. The only questions ask of a reporting person is their knowledge of the crime and no attempt is ever made to identify that person for any further contact. A second way the program addresses the reluctance to become involved is to provide a monetary reward which encourages a person(s) who would simply not take the initiative to report the information. Again is such an instance, no attempt is made to identify the individual reporting the information.

These two incentives increase the knowledge authorities have to complete investigations and make arrests. Subsequent to arrest, the removal persons committing crimes from the community enhances the quality of life in Merced County.

The program includes four separate communications links that can be utilized by reporting person. They include phone tips, text tips, email tips and smart phone applications tips. We also maintain a website.

Over the past year arrests have been made for many serious crimes where this program received and provided information to authorities. Crimes include the most serious, such as homicide, fatal hit and run accidents and domestic violence to crimes of lesser seriousness including information on crimes that are more quality of life in neighborhood issues such as “pot” gardens near other homes and schools.

The Salvation Army Los Banos Corps – Food Pantry and Emergency Services Program weekly provides basic needs and support to individuals, families and the homeless in West Merced County with food, clothing, utility assistance, medical prescriptions, hygiene needs, shelter and transportation services.  

Salvation Army social services provides fresh fruits and vegetables in monthly food boxes in addition to providing workshops to parents and clients on food preparation, making food stretch, and education on diabetes, obesity and how to make healthy food choices for their families.  Food distributions have been provided twice a month to the outlying areas so more individuals and families could be served.  Unfortunately the need always exceeds the available resouces.

Merced County Rescue Mission –  Homeless Connect program will provide services and resources to the homeless.  Homeless connect is a program of the community partners in the Merced Region Continuum of Care(CoC); the primary goal is to end homelessness in Merced County.  The project empowers people from all different walks of life.  The program excels in connecting the most vulnerable in Merced to vital resources throughout the city.  By mobilizing city and community agencies, as well as volunteers, we are able to ensure that our participants receive holistic care in a dignified setting.  

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