Learn. Grow. Thrive.
BMC is committed to providing healthy food options to nourish our community by providing easy access to food for a medically underserved patient population. Many patients experience nutrition-related illness and under-nutrition due to poverty and the limited food choices that come with living in an urban food desert. With patients at the core of everything, over the years BMC has developed three services to enhance patients’ exposure to higher nutritional foods.
BMC Rooftop Farm
A growing need for fresh vegetables in the food pantry and kitchen inspired BMC leadership to invest in an urban rooftop farm with 2,658 square feet of plantable space on top of one of BMC's buildings. The rooftop farm yields 6,000-7,000 pounds of healthy produce each year, with crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, kale, cucumbers, peas, potatoes, spinach, peppers, zucchini, carrots, herbs, and others. This produce is given to patients in the Preventive Food Pantry, on inpatient hospital trays, and in our cafeterias.
The rooftop farm also advances BMC's goal to be the greenest hospital in the nation by 2020. BMC has already reduced carbon emissions by 50% two years ahead of schedule and just signed a solar farm deal that will make the hospital carbon neutral in two years. This garden adds to our green efforts by reducing storm water runoff, mitigating the formation of urban heat, and deviating waste.
The Teaching Kitchen
The Teaching Kitchen provides patients the opportunity to learn how to cook healthy meals, at a low cost. Many of the items used in the Teaching Kitchen are available from the Food Pantry. Classes are open daily for patients to drop in and learn new recipes.
Preventive Food Pantry
Created in 2001, the Preventive Food Pantry and Teaching Kitchen were the first of their kind in the nation. When a primary care physician determines that a patient is food-insecure, the patient receives an open-ended prescription to the Food Pantry outlining the foods required for the patient to promote physical health, prevent future illness, and facilitate recovery. The BMC Food Pantry currently serves 7,000 people a month; nearly half of whom are children.
Boston Medical Center has a long-standing commitment to serving vulnerable populations, which includes treating both medical needs and underlying social determinants of health. Nutrition and access to food are particularly important components of caring for the patient as a whole, and the Food Pantry, Teaching Kitchen and Rooftop Farm play a key role in carrying out this mission. By supporting the Nourishing Our Community program, you are ensuring all three services can work hand-in-hand to help patients and their family members gain access to wholesome, affordable and nutritious food, while promoting healthy eating and living for a population that is mostly urban and on the go.