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Boston Medical Center nurses celebrate the food pantry expansion at an Iron Chef-style competition.

Photo courtesy of Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) Preventive Food Pantry began in 2001 as one of the first hospital-based food pantries in the U.S. The facility serves not just the original target of pregnant women and undernourished children, but anyone who needs to eat. Demand has exploded ever since, and this past summer, the hospital rolled out a significantly larger version.

The Preventive Food Pantry expanded storage space to accept more donations and offer more cooking classes. Today, the pantry distributes about 12,000 pounds of food a week, and the expansion helps BMC to meet the logistical challenges of storing and distributing food not for just the original 500 per month it was designed for, but thousands.

“We now serve 7,000 people per month,” says Latchman Hiralall, manager of the Preventive Food Pantry at BMC. “Patients in our emergency department and in more than 20 clinics get screened for food security and, if they’re found eligible, they come visit us at the food pantry. For 15 years, we made do with what we had. Now we have a lot more dry storage, our own walk-in fridge and freezer, and it’s much easier for patients to find us.”

The expansion includes 1,500 square feet of space and allows BMC to distribute 12,000 pounds of food weekly. Patients can partake in 22 unique cooking classes offered each month.

Read more about BMC’s Preventive Food Pantry from our sister magazine, Hospitals & Health Networks.