Nourishing Our Bodies and Minds
We recognize that many factors contribute to our patients’ health and that access to proper nutrition is a major obstacle to achieving well-being. It is for this all-too-often overlooked reason that Whittier Street Health Center offers a number of nutrition-related programs and referrals.
Our team of registered dietitians provide individual nutritional assessments and counseling, with special attention to maintaining overall health and managing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. And while having access to these health evaluations is highly important, we are aware that nearly half of our patients suffer from food insecurity not only due to poverty, but also for lack of transportation to markets that offer a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices.
Our Food Pantry, now in its fifth year of operation, provides reliable and accessible food and nutrition services in an effort to decrease food insecurity and promote healthy diets for our patients. Those who are determined eligible are given a Prescription for Groceries and receive a monthly bag of items from each food group in addition to materials on nutrition and information about neighborhood food banks.
And then there’s our Community Garden, located next to our building. Yes, it provides the neighborhood with much-needed fresh produce, but it also acts in an educational capacity about the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the Community Garden serves as a forum for our nutritionists to demonstrate planning and preparation of seasonal meals that are healthful, satisfying, and delicious.
In response to our service area being categorized as a “food desert,” we screen our patients for food insecurity and refer about 50% to access programs including the WIC Nutrition Program and Food Pantry. Our Food Pantry is open on Monday to Saturday at the FREDERICA M. WILLIAMS BUILDING at 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury; in addition, staff from our Food Pantry and WIC visit our Whittier satellite clinic at 278 Blue Hill Ave twice a week. We serve as a WIC provider for the Department of Public Health. Also, we have partnered with Fairfoods, a food recovery program. Throughout the year, Whittier patients can obtain a large bag of produce for just $2.
It’s no secret that racial inequities are a fundamental cause of food uncertainty and gaps in food access. But the importance of proper nutrition – for all ages – cannot be overstated. It is critical not only to good physical health, but also to emotional well-being, providing the energy and nutrients needed for our bodies and minds to function properly.
For more information about the Food Pantry, Community Garden, and other nutrition programs offered at Whittier Street Health Center, please call 617-989-3212.