Patients praise Food Rx program

May 18, 2017

Connie could be an ambassador for the Food Prescription Program, a partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware and Beebe Healthcare that assists patients with having access to food through a mobile food pantry.

Started just a year ago, patients – at the time of discharge – get free “prescriptions” to visit the Food Bank of Delaware’s mobile pantry for six months. If they have continued need, the “prescriptions” can be extended.

Connie, a 81-year-old Rehoboth Beach resident, never thought she’d have to choose between paying bills and buying food. She and her husband had both worked all their lives. They had retired and were living off Social Security and his pension. But when her husband died four years ago, his pension benefits to her were cut. The lot rent in her community nearly doubled, and the cost of her Medicare supplemental insurance increased.

Still there are utility bills, medications, car insurance bills to pay, and Connie is concerned about maintaining her home; she’s looked into subsidized senior housing, but the waiting lists are very long.

Connie learned about the Food Prescription program through her primary care doctor, but others – mostly senior citizens – in line on Wednesday were connected to the program through Beebe’s patient discharge planning  staff.

After the patient answers a one-page questionnaire and indicates a financial hardship, he or she is eligible to pick up a 30-pound box of shelf stable food, plus frozen meat and fresh produce, as it is available.

Catherine Murphy, RN, Beebe’s Community Outreach Health Coordinator/ Population Health Department

Catherine Murphy, RN, Beebe’s Community Outreach Health Coordinator/ Population Health Department, says those who are able can pick up their food once a month through the Food Bank mobile pantry at the hospital, but patients who are unable to drive or lack transportation have the food delivered by the hospital’s Care staff.

The food boxes are customized, as much as possible, to accommodate special dietary situations, such as diabetic or gluten free, and there are backpacks with shelf stable food for homeless patients.

If available, the Food Bank often provides much needed personal hygiene items, such as toilet paper and shampoo.

SNAP Outreach Coordinator Ian Lawrence distributes literature to (right to left) Stella and Maria

Maria and her best friend, Stella, were also in line waiting at the mobile pantry to pick up their food box. Maria was one of the first patients to sign on to the program when it opened about a year ago.

At the time, she was about to be released after a three-week hospital stay.

“This program has helped me so much. I’m on Social Security Disability, and I can tell you Cathy goes out of her way to help.”

Stella, who is battling lung cancer, learned about the Food Prescription Program from Maria, a long-time best friend..

“It’s phenomenal. The people are very helpful and informative, and they are tender, loving people,” said Stella.

For more information about this and other Food Bank of Delaware programs, please click here.

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