September is Hunger Action Month
Did you know that 1 in 6 people struggle with hunger? According to Feeding America, 46.5 million people in the U.S. use their network to locate food banks in their area so they can find and eat a nutritious meal. That number includes 12 million children and 7 million seniors. In Boston alone, more than 115,000 people haven’t had access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle at one time or another. Many are forced to choose between paying off medical or housing bills and purchasing nutritious food.
In 2001, Boston Medical Center took action against hunger and opened the doors to the Preventive Food Pantry. Located in the Dowling Building, the pantry supplied food to 500 families per month in its early days.
Today, it supplies more than 50,000 pounds of food per month to more than 1,800 families in the Boston area: that's 7,000 people per month – 40% whom are children. To access the service, BMC patients must obtain a referral through a screening process performed by their BMC primary care physician, which includes an individual’s special nutritional needs and the number of people in their household. Every time a patient visits the food pantry, a note is made in their medical record. “This is a way for providers to see whether a patient has visited or not,” said Latchman Hiralall, Food Pantry Manager. "It's not just about giving out food, the pantry is a part of their medical care here at BMC."
When a patient arrives at the pantry, their food options have been pre-selected based on the family’s dietary restrictions. Equipped with this game plan, they can choose from options which include meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables that are on their list of healthy options.
Patients can visit the Food Pantry twice a month, Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. On those visits, they will receive up to four days’ worth of food per household. Donated by a number of different organizations, the Greater Boston Food Bank provides the majority of the food – 12,000 pounds each week – while a garden on the hospital’s rooftop, run by the Boston Natural Area Network, supplies the Food Pantry with fresh produce.
To schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call 617.414.5951. To learn more about the Food Pantry, visit their website.
To learn more about how to take action against hunger, visit feedingamerica.org/take-action/campaigns/hunger-action-month.