Food as Medicine: Looking at the Bigger Picture in Ashe County

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Last December, Ashe Memorial Hospital partnered with the Ashe Sharing Center and Second Harvest Food Bank to launch the region’s first hospital based food pantry.



The pantry idea is simple, but could be life-changing for patients. During the hospital admission process, patients are asked two questions: are they worried about where their next meal is going to come from and are they worried about running out of food before they have money to buy more. Healthy, diet-specific custom boxes are then created to help stabilize their situation.

More than 4,600 people in Ashe County are food insecure with ramifications for their health and well being. Lacking enough proper nutrients can further hinder recovery for patients whose health is already compromised.

This past May, Ashe Memorial Hospital leaders were invited to share about this simple, innovative approach with members of the North Carolina General Assembly, healthcare leaders statewide and with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

The pantry program has distributed over 150 boxes of food in its first six months, and Second Harvest and our partners are looking at ways to further expand this model connecting food and healthcare. Now that the pantry project has been brought to the hospital, the next logical step is to bring a health care component to food distributions. The Sharing Center and Ashe Memorial are exploring ways to hold health fairs at the mobile pantry stops, offering a variety of services such as blood work, PSA testing for men, blood pressure checks, and sign ups for free mammograms.

“According to Hunger in America 2014, food insecure households often have to make very difficult budget choices when choosing between seeking medical care, filling prescriptions or providing nutritious food for their families,”  says Nikki McCormick, Second Harvest Food Bank’s Director of Agency Relations. “Our work is inextricably linked to a number of issues affecting families who are also struggling to put food on the table–many of those are related to health.”

Learn more about our partners in Ashe County and throughout our 18 county service area here. 

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$1 provides 7 meals.

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#health #mobilepantry #AsheSharingCenter #HealthyFood #freshfood #medical #AsheCounty #AsheMemorialHospital

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