GENEVA – A new $25,000 grant from Medline CARES helps support the Food Bank’s Build Healthy Communities Screen and Intervene initiative, working alongside healthcare organizations to address the need for nutritious food for patients identified as food insecure. To date, Medline has donated $75,000 to this initiative.
More than 200 families and individuals will shop from the Food Bank initiative’s Rx Mobile food delivery vehicle from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 at Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center, 2323 Grand Ave., Waukegan.
Erie patients and families at the Rx Mobile event will each select about 45 pounds of food, including a mix of meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables, as well as other items. In addition to staff from the Food Bank and Erie Family Health, representatives from local nonprofits Keeping Families Covered and Northwest Palliative Care will also provide services during the Rx Mobile event.
“Access to fresh, nutritious food is at the heart of health and hunger. Initiatives like Rx Mobiles and our partnerships with health, social services and community organizations provide the nutritious food and nutrition education our neighbors need to thrive,” said Kathleen Wendt, manager of healthy communities and seniors programs, Northern Illinois Food Bank.
“Medline is honored to support organizations like the Northern Illinois Food Bank that are thinking holistically about healthcare among those most marginalized,” said Karen Frey, senior manager of philanthropy, Medline. “We are excited to see them lead the way in partnering with other agencies to deliver much-needed services in a coordinated and convenient way for residents and our communities.”
Staff and healthcare providers at Erie Family Health say the program serves an important need for their patients. “Overall, we see better health outcomes when our patients facing hunger receive fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and protein foods,” said Erie’s Social Determinants of Health Manager Lacey Johnson, MPH. “Mobile Rx has been an exceptional resource for our patients, especially those with chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.”
About the program
Food and nutrition security means having reliable access to enough high-quality food to avoid hunger and stay healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improving access to nutritious food supports overall health, reduces chronic disease, and helps people avoid unnecessary health care. This is why food and nutrition security is one of the key societal determinants of health, according to the CDC.
Since its inception in 2019, the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Build Healthy Communities Screen and Intervene program has proven the value of food as medicine as health care providers shift to holistic health care and focus on patients’ environments as well as their physical ailments. Through the program, patients are screened for food insecurity in their health care provider’s offices using a hunger vital signs screening tool with two questions related to their access to and ability to afford food.
Those who rate positively receive a voucher to participate in the program, which includes Rx Mobiles as well as hospital food pantries, an online food pantry (My Pantry Express) and Rx Markets that use the same food as the drug, along with additional services at fixed locations .
The Rx Mobile program is convenient for many people because it is occasionally held at clinics or hospitals where they are already receiving care. The program takes place at five locations in Lake County.
It’s also popular with patients: “I love hosting the Erie Food Bank because it’s nice to see the needs of so many families being met and to be able to interact with the community,” said Khaled Cortes, care coordinator at Erie Health Reach Waukegan who helps in planning and executing Rx Mobile events. “The event was also beneficial because the families were happy and smiling because they would have food to eat.”
For more information about the Rx Mobiles and Northern Illinois Food Bank programs, visit: SolveHungerToday.org.