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On-Site Food Pantries in Healthcare Clinics Address Health and Hunger for Patients

Step inside the lobby of the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Madison and you walk right into the Madison Stop and Shop Market – the clinic’s food pantry, in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

“We have produce, rice, beans, lots of different canned vegetables, and frozen meat,” said Clinic Manager Ashley Alvarez. “The shelf-stable milk is especially popular.”

This is just one of the eight food pantries located in Neighborhood Health Clinics in Davidson and Wilson Counties, all made possible by a grant from United Healthcare.

“When someone lacks access to healthy foods, their health suffers,” said Caroline Pullen, Senior Manager of Nutrition & Innovation at Second Harvest. “By providing food at healthcare sites, we can help improve health outcomes for clients.”

Over the past several years, Second Harvest has been working with local healthcare organizations to address food insecurity for their patients, including onsite food pantries, educating healthcare staff on screening for food insecurity, and providing referrals to other Second Harvest feeding programs and food distribution sites.

“Food insecurity increases the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease,” said Lexie Trice, Manager of Hunger & Health at Second Harvest. “In addition, it’s difficult to manage these diseases and follow prescribed diets when you are food insecure. By increasing access to healthy foods, we can increase overall health.”

“Activities such as these allow food banks to extend their reach into the clinical setting and promote interventions for food insecurity,” said Pullen. “Food banks have existing community relationships which can be leveraged to further address food insecurity with healthcare providers.”

In 2021 alone, Second Harvest’s partnership with Neighborhood Health provided more than 1,050 patients with nearly 50,000 pounds of food – equaling nearly 60,000 meals.

“From pediatric to geriatric, this food pantry has been a lifeline for our patients,” said Alvarez. “Seeing the smiles on their faces when they leave after their healthcare appointments with bags full of groceries, you know we are doing something special for the community.”

Click here to meet Second Harvest’s Nutrition Team and learn more about our work in addressing the link between hunger and health.

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