Healthcare district directors denied a request Tuesday from the Crescent City Downtown Divas for $3,400 to continue a program aimed at getting kids to make healthy eating choices.
Though the Del Norte Healthcare District donated to the Downtown Divas' Power of Produce program last year, its two newest directors, Dohn Henion and Michael Young, said they weren't prepared to grant the nonprofit's request without further information.
Henion said even though he represented the Del Norte County Department of Health and Human Services as an attorney for years, he didn't understand the language the nonprofit used in its request letter.
"I don't know all the welfare programs and I don't know what it is they're actually doing," Henion said.
Young asked if the Downtown Divas' request for funding was for something health related and asked why a representative wasn't at the Healthcare District's meeting to make a presentation in person.
"I'm not saying I'm against it," he said. "I would think that if we make a contribution it would, somehow, be tied to our mission."
Though Henion and Young's colleague on the board, Dr. Kevin Caldwell, acknowledged that the Healthcare District had funded previous requests for donations from the Downtown Divas, Dr. Greg Duncan, the board's chair, said since there are three newly elected officials on the board, it would be wise to hear from the nonprofit organization.
In its first year, the Power of Produce Club is organized through the Downtown Divas, SNAP-Ed, the Community Food Council, the Del Norte Child Care Council and the Del Norte County Library.
The Healthcare District, Sutter Coast Hospital, Wild Rivers Community Foundation and the Del Norte Senior Center were also partners in bringing the program to Del Norte County, Downtown Divas representative Billie Kaye Gavin-Tygart told the Triplicate last year.
Now in its second year, the Power of Produce program targets youngsters ages 4-14, allowing them to learn about fruits, vegetables and gardening. They're also given $3 each week to spend on produce at the Downtown Crescent City Farmers and Artisans Market.
The Power of Produce club has been at farmers markets throughout the U.S. and Canada, according to a Downtown Divas press release from 2018.
The Healthcare District also denied a funding request for $300 to Newspapers in Education, though Duncan said he would donate the requested dollars himself.
In other matters, the Healthcare District returned to a discussion about a crisis stabilization unit during a report from Director Elizabeth Austen on her collaboration with a mental health committee. The committee consists of representatives from the Healthcare District, Sutter Coast Hospital, Del Norte County Department of Health and Human Services and Open Door Clinic and is researching the feasibility of bringing a psychiatrist to the area.
At its April meeting, Caldwell and Duncan spoke of the crisis stabilization unit as something the community needed but was abandoned because the county couldn't fund it. Caldwell said he felt that Sutter Coast Hospital should pay for the crisis stabilization unit.
In an April 30 article, DHHS Director Heather Snow told the Triplicate that in January 2018 the county and the hospital decided a crisis stabilization unit in Del Norte County wasn't viable.
"Between the county and the hospital we could have made it happen, but it was determined that it was not a financially sustainable project..." Snow told the Triplicate.
On Tuesday, Duncan asked Ellie Popadic, Sutter Coast Hospital's director of ancillary services and business, to bring a written proposal and the committee's priorities to the district's June meeting.
Popadic told Duncan that the committee is "getting to that point." She said she would continue to work through Austen on informing the district of what the mental health working group's plans are.