Food Pantry Press Release: Whittier launches a Food Pantry to address the high rates of hunger in its patient population
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Whittier Street Health Center to Launch Food Pantry
to Address Hunger and Food Insecurity
(Boston, MA) October 23, 2018 – Whittier Street Health Center will launch an on-site food pantry to address major and unmet hunger and food insecurity for its patients and community residents in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and surrounding communities. Whittier expects to deliver emergency food supplies to a minimum of 400 individuals monthly.
The pantry’s opening will be celebrated on Monday, October 29, 2018, with a short ceremony at the Center’s main office at 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury at 10 am.
The goal of the innovative Emergency Food Pantry (EFP) program is to provide reliable and accessible food and nutrition services that decrease food insecurity, promote a healthy diet and encourage healthy families. During their doctor’s visit, patients will be screened for referral to the EFP, using the Hunger VitalSign, a tool validated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Federal eligibility guidelines will also be utilized. Eligible patients will receive a prescription for groceries bi-monthly, free of charge. Each bag will include groceries from each food group and will meet USDA standards. The pantry will be open Mondays 9am-1pm and Thursdays 1pm-5pm.
“We are thrilled to be offering this service to our patients” said Whittier Street Health Center President and CEO Frederica M. Williams. “By providing access to healthy foods, we will close the racial and ethnic disparities in our community and build a culture of health and wellness.”
Families will also receive nutrition information, WIC program application, Project Bread hotline information and other appropriate referrals. In addition, Whittier will continue its partnership with Fair Foods and the Trustees Mobile Farmers Market, local organizations that provide fresh, local products to communities that have limited access to farm fresh food.
“Many of the refugee and immigrant families we serve will be supported by this critical service,” said Abdirahman Yusuf, Executive Director, Somali Development Center, a local social service agency in Dudley Square, Roxbury. “It is incumbent on all of us to support families in providing healthy and nutritious food for their children and through this pantry Whittier will help us do just that.”
Children living in food insecure households are likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly, and be hospitalized more frequently, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Adults struggling with hunger have higher risks for developing chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes,” said Dr. Sameer Chinoy, Whittier Health Center’s Medical Director for Primary Care Services. “As doctors we see the negative consequences of food insecurity particularly for children’s health, including cognitive development and school achievement. It is clear – going to bed hungry and not getting the proper nutrition has life-long implications.”
Almost 50% of Whittier’s patients are plagued with food insecurity and hunger, caused by poverty and difficulty getting to supermarkets. Cheap, unhealthy foods from fast food outlets and convenience stores are more easily available and processed foods far outnumber fresh fruit and vegetables.
Reports estimate that hunger and food insecurity in the United States drive up health care costs, resulting in an annual price tag exceeding $160 billion. America’s hunger bill affects educational outcomes, labor productivity, crime rates, Gross Domestic Product, and much more.
Stephanie Thomas, Chair of the Whittier Developments Tenant Task Force, said, “Our residents and task force board members believe that the Whittier Food Pantry will provide a much-needed service to families, especially the children. It’s a great idea and a blessing to the community.”
Whittier is in the forefront of changing the healthcare delivery system from being costly and episodic, to being proactive, wellness and prevention-focused, and more cost effective. Whittier’s on-site food pantry is a new and innovative program that will address a major unmet need of food insecurity and access to healthier foods in the communities that need them most.
For more information about the event, or if your organization is interested in participating, call Crystal Palmer, Director of Wellness Initiatives and Community Relations at 617 989 3111 or MaKeysha Montgomery at 617 989 3220.
About Whittier Street Health Center
Whittier Street Health Center is a Joint Commission accredited, private, non-profit, independently licensed community health center dedicated to providing high quality, reliable and accessible primary healthcare and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. Serving close to 30,000 clients with approximately 145,000 clinic visits and 30,000 community outreach visits annually, Whittier has a patient base which is ethnically and racially diverse, including significant numbers of individuals from Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, the South End and Greater Boston. Whittier provides a comprehensive array of 40 healthcare programs and services designed to meet the primary health care, behavioral health, and social needs of the community. Whittier is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a level 3 (highest level) patient-centered medical home. Learn more at www.wshc.org.
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