For nearly three years, Beebe Medical Center and the Food Bank of Delaware have partnered to ensure that patients released from the hospital – including the emergency room – have adequate nourishing food.
This Food Prescription Program, administered by Beebe’s Catherine Murphy, BSN, RN (pictured on the right), is part of the healthcare facility’s Community Health mission. Participating patients may visit a food pantry within the hospital and receive at least three “prescriptions” to visit the Food Bank’s mobile pantry during other months. The program is funded by generous Food Bank of Delaware supporters.
Last year, this program served 239 people – mostly elderly- through the mobile pantry where 12,396 pounds of food were distributed.
Each month, the 43 patients enrolled in this program can pick up a meal box that includes one box of non-perishable, shelf-stable items, and a bag of perishable items. The non-perishable items may include, canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, canned fruits, dried beans and peanut butter.
The program has been enhanced to include specialty boxes for diabetic patients or patients with heart disease, and even boxes for those dealing with both conditions. Murphy explains that diabetic patients receive low-to-no sugar foods and those with heart disease get low-sodium/high-fiber foods. These specialty boxes are packed by Food Bank of Delaware volunteers at the Milford branch.
If patients are unable to pick up at the monthly mobile pantry, volunteer drivers deliver the meals. The program also serves homeless people.
“We don’t ask income,” said Murphy, noting that patients who need additional assistance will get help applying for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
The meals come with additional support aimed toward getting patients not only physically healthy, but also independent.
“We call every month to keep a good connection. The client knows we are a good resource. Can we help every need? No, but they know we’re here, and they can call us,” said Murphy.
In addition, patients who need the service may be eligible to attend free diabetes education classes, she added.
“They are expected to be an active participant in their health care,” she said. “At our food pantry, they can come and take what they need. We are teaching them to eat more healthy.”
Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs or how to help Delawareans dealing with food insecurity.