CMC launches preventative food pantry to address hunger and health

CMC, NH Food Bank launch innovative program as part of Hunger Action Month

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The Preventative Food Pantry will provide patients with a supply of wholesome foods for restricted diets, including fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – Catholic Medical Center (CMC), in partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities NH, and the Parish of the Transfiguration Food Pantry, has launched a transformative, first-in-the-state program. The Preventative Food Pantry helps patients with chronic medical conditions obtain wholesome foods and nutrition counseling in an effort to improve their overall health.

“There is a paradigm shift that’s been brewing for years, recognizing food as medicine,” says Dr. William Goodman, CMC’s Chief Medical Officer.  “Access to healthy foods is a major social determinant of health.  This program can be a turning point in the lives of our patients.”

CMC social workers and nutritionists will work to identify patients who have conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, who suffer from food insecurity. Those patients will receive a prescription for the Food Pantry, which they can visit twice a month to collect a box of healthful food that complies with their diet restrictions.  Patients will also check in with volunteer nurses who will track key indicators of health, including weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

Marc Guillemette, Director, CMC Office of Catholic Identity; Thomas Blonski, President & CEO, Catholic Charities NH; William Goodman, MD, MPH, CMC Chief Medical Officer; Eileen Liponis, Executive Director, New Hampshire Food Bank; Tim Brockway, Director, Parish of the Transfiguration Food Pantry; Andrew Cernota, Board Member, Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund. Courtesy Photo

“Imagine knowing what’s in front of you isn’t healthy, but it’s all you have to eat,” says Eileen Liponis, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Food Bank.  She notes that 1 in 9 New Hampshire residents, including 11-percent of children, are food insecure.  “We hope this is the first of many programs like it across the state.”

The New Hampshire Food Bank will supply the food to the Parish of the Transfiguration Food Pantry, which will receive the prescription for each patient directly from CMC.  A grant from the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund helped get the program going, funding the purchase of a new, commercial grade refrigerator and freezer to store vitamin-rich, fresh foods.

“We first started talking to hospitals about this idea more than a year ago,” says Thomas Blonski, President & CEO of Catholic Charities New Hampshire which operates the New Hampshire Food Bank.  CMC and the Parish of the Transfiguration were quick to respond.  We’re all in this together to make this happen to get people where they need to be, to help them be well.”