So much more than a food pantry…
September 27, 2010 | 7:14 pm
Last week we spent the morning at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) and were completely awed by the extensive support given to the extremely diverse patient population at the hospital. The “tagline” at BMC is “exceptional care without exception” and it was an apt description for what we saw on our tour.
We went to the hospital to specifically learn about BMC’s Nutrition Resource Center more commonly known as the food pantry. At the food pantry we spoke with Latchman Hiralall, Registered Dietetic Technician, and the food pantry manager. He told us that the mission of the food pantry is give out healthy food to people who couldn’t otherwise obtain food to promote their health. Sounds simple right? In fact, what they are doing is unique, comprehensive and filled with much common sense.
We learned that in order to use the in-hospital food pantry you need a referral from your doctor and that your selections from the food pantry are based around your medical needs; diabetes, heart conditions, obesity etc. Families are encouraged to select foods from the food pantry that are not only healthy but also food that their family members prefer. The assistance doesn’t stop there. The food pantry even has a fully equipped demonstration kitchen, where nutritionists can show patients and their families healthy ways to prepare the food they are “prescribed”.
In the demonstration kitchen we spent some time with Deidra Dexter-Hine, the Clinical Nutrition Manager. Deidre is a chef nutritionist who explained the Nutrition Resource Center is the ONLY in-hospital food pantry in the entire country. Other hospitals around the country are now trying to replicate the model developed at BMC. Deidra teaches families how to prepare foods that are good for them based on their specific dietary needs. She teaches food safety and encourages patients to be hands-on participants in her classes.
The food pantry is supported by private donors and the Greater Boston Food Bank. We were shocked to learn the food pantry is providing food to 7000 visitors per month. There are of course, opportunities to get involved. You can help hungry children and families by starting a food drive at your office, school, church, temple or community group. The food pantry is always in need of donations. The BMC website provides suggestions to make your food drive a success. You can make a financial donation to the food pantry at bmc.org/about/giving.htm. There are also opportunities to volunteer at the food pantry or other departments at the hospital. For more information go to bmc.org/about/volunteer.htm
We left Boston Medical Center feeling like we had really learned something special. Our visit to the Nutrition Resource Center is only a slice of what we saw on our tour. The same level of comprehensive care and commitment to treating the many needs of the patients was mirrored in the many other departments that we visited. We would love to help them get the word out!0 Comment