A joint effort between the Food Bank and healthcare partners, along with support from local medical students, will get clients
the food they need to make long-lasting strides toward total wellbeing. Health Meets Home, in its pilot stage, will create the ability to address food access and the effect of nutritious food on health outcomes while providing needed health and nutrition to participating families.
Students at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and Arnot Health providers are screening patients to select 10 households who are pre-diabetic and at risk of food insecurity. Medical students will visit weekly with participants to deliver tailored Food Bank boxes of food, along with basic cooking supplies and healthy recipes. The pilot program begins this fall. Successful outcomes will lead to an ongoing partnership.
“More and more, medical professionals are asking their patients about food insecurity because it impacts health,” says Matt Griffin, Food Bank Director of Health & Nutrition. “Food insecurity now has its own diagnostic code for health status.”
Feeding America recently reported that 13% of residents in the Food Bank’s six-county service are at risk of food insecurity and, thus, increased medical complications by lack of access to nutritious food. Isabelle Corgel, Food Bank Health & Nutrition Programs Manager, says the program prescreening process has revealed those local numbers may be as high as 38%.
Access to nutrition-dense food and resources could keep neighbors healthier and prevent serious illness and the need for costly medical interventions.
Dr. Beth Dollinger, of Arnot Health, is the only board-certified orthopedic surgeon who is also certified in culinary medicine. She says many patients who experience food insecurity are unaware of the resources available to them. LECOM and Arnot Health will gain an understanding of how to address hunger at regular check-ups and support patients with access to food and other critical resources, clearing obstacles to achieving a healthier community.
“In the Southern Tier, $71 million a year in healthcare costs is associated with food insecurity,” Matt says. “I imagine there are a lot of preventive treatments that could mitigate these health conditions and reduce healthcare costs. Health Meets Home is a tremendous step in a healthy direction.”