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Nonprofit receives $60,000 to expand 'Food is Medicine' program

Program improves food security and health outcomes
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Posted at 6:47 AM, Oct 21, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee received a $60,000 grant from the Amerigroup Foundation to expand the "Food is Medicine" program.

The grant will fund this initiative at the food bank as it partners with Nashville General Hospital Foundation to support health care staff with the implementation of processes to conduct universal food insecurity screenings and interventions.

The "Food is Medicine" program, a Feeding America initiative funded by the Amerigroup Foundation, will help connect approximately 1,500 people facing hunger in the Nashville area to food distribution programs that provide access to healthy food options.

This program aims to screen between 20,000 and 30,000 hospital and clinic patients with the goal of improving food security and health outcomes.

“When our neighbors are unable to afford healthy foods, their health suffers. By partnering with Amerigroup Foundation, we can begin tackling these challenging issues together and create healthier communities.” said Caroline Pullen, Senior Manager, Nutrition & Innovation at Second Harvest.

Through the grant’s funding, Nashville General Hospital patients are screened for food insecurity and those who are food insecure are referred to their onsite, state-of-the-art Food Pharmacy.

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Nashville General Hospital

There, patients receive free, healthy foods, as well as nutrition education and referrals to other food distributions and resources, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

By providing on-site food access, Nashville General Hospital Foundation can truly transform hospital and clinic patient's health.

“The Food is Medicine program addresses essential nutritional needs with the provision of nutrient-dense foods and fresh produce, coupled with increased education about choice,” said Vernon Rose, Executive Director, Nashville General Hospital Foundation.

Currently, 1 in 8 people face hunger in Middle Tennessee.

People living in food-insecure households are more likely to experience poor health across their lifespan and are at increased risk for illness and poor chronic disease management.

The "Food is Medicine" program seeks to ensure patients who screen positive for food insecurity during health care visits have access to resources to help them get the food they need.

Amerigroup Foundation has supported hunger-relief efforts at food banks across Tennessee. They say the grant represents a sustained investment to support food bank and health care partnerships and address the intersections of food insecurity and health.

If you would like to donate or learn more about the program at Nashville General Hospital, click here.