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’s most direct priority is to support the efforts toward independence in the community – ECPECIALLY AS THIS PERTAINS DIRECTLY AT THERAPY GOALS (access to equipment, therapy, medical intervention, and opportunity to “grow”/learn therapeutic/medical intention). Individuals (and their families) find themselves of some need at various times to attain equipment, programs (therapeutic and/or educational), and emergency support on their “road” to independence, making good healthy choices, and a “full” participation in their medical interaction and healthy community participation.

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.

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 Band 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.


UW-Sacred RockSacred Rok Yosemite Youth Trips:The goal of Sacred Rok is to expose teens to nature through camping trips and hikes, eating healthy food, and helping them to learn to respect and value nature and to understand their own role, to experience the healing ceremony of nature, and to empower them to make positive choices in their lives and to help protect and preserve the natural world where they are experiencing and learning to value. 

They will learn to slow down and calm down, sitting by a river or taking a hike, and experience nature.  We provide healthy, organic lunch and snacks.  The goal is to build a relationship with nature, through mentoring with a positive adult role model, and increase self-esteem, impulse control, and anger control.  We build healthy communities through long term relationships and follow-up trips with the trip leader.


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.


UW-vcc_logo Alliance for Community Transformations: Valley Crises Center provides services to Westside families who are in crises due to domestic violence and sexual assault through the provision of services at the Los Banos satellite office.  The past year, they served 280 victims through the Los Banos office.  The increased services helped promote improved outcomes for the individuals and families served, including increased safety, improved health and mental health, increased access to services to meet basic needs, and improved overall well-being.

This year, in order to increase capacity while also decreasing the need for services in the future, two additional services will be developed.  The first is a “Legal Workshop” that will provide information and assistance to victims who may need civil restraining orders in a group format.

The second strategy is a prevention group with the victims of domestic violence.  Prevention groups help to give children the tools and skills to prevent violence in their own lives.

Both of these promote health and safety amongst the adult victims and their children who are truly impacted by the secondary effects of violence within the home.



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