St. Joseph Healthcare in Bangor has just begun a partnership with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, establishing the Community Health and Hunger Initiative. The pilot program will help ensure that patients of St. Joe’s 5 provider practices in the Bangor area who are lacking food are directed to community resources for help.
“We have identified that food insecurity is an issue in our community,” says Mia Dubois, Director of Care Continuum and System Integration at St. Joe’s “We have patients who struggle to make hard choices between food and heat or medicine. We understand that food is medicine and want to help our community by providing these people nourishing meals during difficult times.”
During the pilot program patients will be screened for food insecurity through a
2-question screening tool that is integrated into the admission/registration interview by nurse care managers. Patients identified as food-insecure will be discreetly provided a list of local food pantries and a 2 to 3-day supply of nutritious, shelf-stable food to take home.
Good Shepherd Food Bank, an organization that supplies food to a state-wide network of shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens from distribution centers in Auburn and Hampden, is providing the food for the program, with current funding available to support up to 200 patients. During this trial stage St. Joe’s will submit feedback to Good Shepherd, including demographic and geographic statistics. If it is determined there is a significant level of need, hospital officials hope that funding for the program could be continued through a grant.