Fighting Hunger One Bell Pepper at a Time
If you are one of my patient, supremely wonderful friends, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about wanting to do a half marathon. So here it is. As a way to ensure I stick to my goal of finishing the Smuttynose Half Marathon on October 6th in a relatively respectful time, I have chosen to raise money for one of my favorite organizations in the city, Boston Medical Center and their efforts to fight hunger in our community. Here they address hunger through veggie prescriptions and by showing people new ways to liven up dishes and cook for their health in their demonstration kitchen.
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is a 496 bed safety net hospital with New England’s largest and busiest Trauma One Unit as well as top rated an academic medical center. Here the mission is “exceptional care, without exception”. It is a mission they live to the fullest caring for the most vulnerable.
In America, nearly 50 million of our neighbors go hungry each year. That means 1 in 6 citizens do not know when their next meal will be. This is not only a travesty, it’s a healthcare crisis. The ramifications of hunger go far beyond the kitchen table. Hunger is responsible for not only increased healthcare cost but also poor test scores in children, diabetes, low productivity in employees and high blood pressure.
BMC has taken a truly innovative approach to healthcare, now being replicated across the country. Their food pantry and demonstration kitchen meet the underlying needs of many complicated chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Primary care doctors write “prescriptions” for patients to visit the food pantry and access healthy food they would otherwise not see. The Pantry is often used by patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, food allergies and other chronic conditions.
Families can visit the Food Pantry twice per month and receive three to four days’ worth of food for their household each time. A key feature is the provision of perishable goods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter, and meats all year round – items that are often costly and therefore often lacking in a low-income family’s diet. In 2011, the Preventive Food Pantry provided food to more than 80,500 patients and their household members (an average of 6,709 monthly).
In addition to opening access to healthy foods, BMC invites patients to its Demonstration Kitchen to learn how to use the veggies they just received in new and exciting ways. There is this wonderful sense of community that grows. Patients compare recipes, new uses for tried and true vegetables, or a preparation more likely to entice the pickiest toddler. Conversations begin and community grows outside the confines of the hospital. Cultural barriers are crossed and common ground is found over the shared love of an eggplant.
I Like Food Too
Many of you know my love all things food, spicy, sweet, salty and savory. None of our neighbors should go hungry.
Oh and here’s the link. It’s really fast and easy.