Massachusetts general hospital revere food pantry: Addressing hunger and health at an academic medical center community clinic
Food insecurity is defined by limited access to adequate food. As a result, it is associated with chronic disease for millions of Americans. Healthcare systems take responsibility for improving patient health and thus are well positioned to create food security interventions that improve health. Given that dietary recommendations now emphasize plant-based foods (such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains), interventions could prioritize distributing plant-based foods that promote health and reduce food insecurity. We developed a plant-based food pantry at the Massachusetts General Hospital Revere Healthcare Center, an academic medical center-affiliated community clinic that serves many patients with food insecurity. We partnered with a local food bank and used a color-coded nutrition ranking system to prioritize healthy foods. What began as a pilot program for patients with food insecurity and chronic disease expanded to serve the entire clinic population in response to rising community level food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed and modified a workflow that provided an average of 384 recipients (i.e., patients and their household members) with food monthly during the 10-month study period. A total of 117,742 pounds of food was distributed. Next steps for the food pantry will include investigating health outcomes, assessing patient satisfaction with plant-based foods, and securing sustainable funding. Our experience can be used to guide other health organizations interested in the intersection of food security and chronic disease management.
Mirsky JB, Zack RM, Berkowitz SA, Fiechtner L. Massachusetts general hospital revere food pantry: Addressing hunger and health at an academic medical center community clinic. Healthc (Amst). 2021 Oct 7;9(4):100589. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2021.100589. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34628211.