Solution: Hospitals Can Help the Hungry
Hunger is a health issue, but many health care providers are accustomed to thinking about hunger as a consequence of poverty. This thinking prevents them from making the link between food security and the health of their patients.
The right quantity and quality of food is essential to life itself, is required for good health, and is key to preventing disease and chronic health problems in the future.
Congressman James P. McGovern (D-Worcester), shares Project Bread's belief that hunger is a health issue. In a recent groundbreaking move for antihunger work, Congressman McGovern called for all of the state’s hospitals to take an active role in helping hungry patients in their care.
"Hunger in the Community: Ways Hospitals Can Help"
The hospital handbook, written and produced by Project Bread in partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care and unvelied by Congressman McGovern, offers a practical guide on how hospitals may help patients and their families address hunger and food insecurity. Despite the pressures put on hospitals to treat patients who are sicker so they return home quicker than ever before, hospitals are institutions of healing that have a unique role in treating and preventing hunger.
For more information on how hospitals can help those in need, download the "Hunger in the Community: Ways Hospitals Can Help" hospital handbook.
Referring patients to resources
• Help patients apply for the SNAP/Food Stamp Program or WIC.
• Refer children to school meal programs.
• Refer children to the summer food service program.
• Refer seniors to senior meal programs.
Connecting with emergency food
• Connect patients with local emergency food – 1-800-645-8333.
• Provide supermarket vouchers/cards.
• Operate your own hospital-based food pantry.
• Teach clinicians and staff about food insecurity and local resources.
Getting more involved
• Screen pediatric and geriatric patients in key clinical settings.
• Host hunger outreach programs.
• Expand nutrition education, and create a teaching kitchen.
• Provide discounts for hospital cafeteria food.
Partnering with the community
• Host farmers’ markets or farm stands at hospitals.
• Donate leftover hospital food to local shelters and feeding programs.
• Prepare meals for community feeding programs and home-delivered meals.
• Support school food service enhancements and school garden programs.
• Sponsor community gardens.
Stories from the field