Austin-based Superior HealthPlan Filling a Need with Hygiene Closets

This blog was written by Superior HealthPlan Director of Communications Michael Cation. Superior HealthPlan is a long-time corporate partner of United Way for Greater Austin and a pillar of our community. Together with our partners like Superior, we’re making a real difference for children and families across our Austin region. 

Shampoo. Toothpaste. Feminine hygiene products. These are just a few of the items individuals from lower-income neighborhoods often struggle to buy.

That’s why Superior HealthPlan, a leading managed care organization in Texas, has been working with schools and nonprofits in Austin and beyond to launch hygiene closets. As part of this initiative, which kicked off in 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Superior provides grants to community-based organizations to help stock these closets for individuals in need.

“We’re excited to support the Austin community as well as many others in Texas by providing families access to personal care items,” said Mark Sanders, President, and CEO of Superior HealthPlan. “Combined with the many other community programs and family services we offer, hygiene closets allow us to help Texans right where they are.”

file cabinet with hygiene supplies on top

The initiative began by partnering with 6 organizations that support the disability community. Following a wealth of positive feedback, Superior decided to expand the program in 2021 and has supported even more organizations this year. To date, Superior has provided more than $300,000 in funding to more than 70 organizations and schools in Texas, including more than $20,000 to the following in the Austin area:

  • Austin Voices for Education and Youth
  • Barbara Jordan Elementary School
  • Barrington Elementary School
  • Burnet Middle School Family Resource Center
  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas
  • Colony Park Neighborhood Association
  • Communities in Schools in the Heart of Texas
  • John P. Ojeda Middle School
  • Literacy Coalition of Central Texas
  • Mendez Elementary School
  • Overton Elementary School
  • Todos Juntos Learning Center
  • Widen Elementary School

Hygiene closets address a need that’s not often talked about but is critically important. For example, according to the nonprofit Amenity Aid, there was a 60 percent increase in demand for hygiene products in 2020 compared to the previous year. With the cost of living continuing to increase – and now with 1 in 10 households in Austin considered low-income – the importance of meeting these needs cannot be overstated.

Addressing these basic needs can have a profound impact on social determinants of health, the barriers often faced by lower-income individuals and families that prevent good health, which also include education, transportation, and housing.

Superior has been committed to meeting these kinds of needs not only through the implementation of hygiene closets but also by partnering with organizations like Prospera Community Housing Services, which provides affordable housing as well as on-site care, access to food, and other services for residents.

“We understand the value of community-based organizations, which is why we are proud to support United Way for Greater Austin and so many others each year,” said Sanders. “These kinds of partnerships allow us to fulfill our purpose of transforming the health of Texas communities, one person at a time.”

Superior HealthPlan employees donate each year to support United Way for Greater Austin in fighting poverty. In 2021, employees donated $290,000 to Texas chapters of United Way as part of an annual giving campaign. Learn more about our partnership here. Founded in 1999, Superior HealthPlan is a managed care company that provides health care to 1.7 million members statewide, including children and youth in foster care, through Medicaid, Medicare, and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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