Boston Medical Center employees celebrate the expansion of its Preventive Food Pantry.
A number of health care organizations are fighting chronic illness by addressing poverty and food insecurity. According to a report in Hospitals & Health Networks, hospitals across the country are developing upstream interventions such as food pharmacies, pantries and gardens to keep their patient populations healthy.
For instance, Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock established an on-site 4,000-square-foot garden last year that produced more than 1,790 pounds of produce. The food — spinach, beets, radishes, lettuce, snap peas and onions — was distributed through a local pantry.
In Massachusetts, the Boston Medical Center set up an on-site Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program so that families can apply for the program while visiting the hospital. It also operates the Preventive Food Pantry which was expanded last year by 1,500 square feet. The pantry serves more than 7,000 patients each year.
ProMedica, which serves counties in northwest Ohio, has set up two food pharmacies in Toledo. Physicians can write prescriptions for patients identified as food-insecure. The prescriptions can provide food enough for two or three days. The pharmacies also provide free nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian.