“One step closer to wellness!”: How our food bags help address food insecurity

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Food bags are an essential component of delivering whole-person care to our patients. In 2023, Hennepin Healthcare provided 25,973 food bags to patients at our community clinics and downtown campus. Food insecurity rates are at record highs across Minnesota, and we estimate that over 25% of our patient families are struggling with getting enough healthy food to eat.

Care team members appreciate having the food bags available for patients in need. “I was able to give a food bag to a family, and they were extremely grateful; they said because of it, they would be able to have a decent hot meal tonight.” Said Christea Montgomery, Medical Assistant in the Pediatric Primary Clinic. “Healthcare is holistic. If we can meet a need, even a small one, we are one more step closer to wellness!”

Last fall, Population Health partnered with Second Harvest Heartland to create new food bags for our patients. We now have three varieties of nutritionally balanced, shelf-stable bags of food: two general options and one tailored to Latinx dietary preferences. Feedback from patients on them has been great!

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Note: We also have a food bag with ready-to-eat products for our unstably housed patients and others who don’t have access to a kitchen or the ability to cook. These come in white paper bags.

Not having enough nutritious food increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and overall poor health. For children, it can also affect their growth and development. And for seniors, it can cause confusion and weakness, on top of other health risks. It’s hard for anyone to be healthy and feel good when hungry.

Jessica Gipson, Registration Supervisor in the Radiology department, noted that having the food bags also helps our patients in other ways: “The food program at Hennepin Healthcare has been key to building trustworthy relationships with patients. Several patients have told me how they feel comfortable and not judged when asking for or being offered a food pack. The food bags have been a great asset to the Radiology Department, and our patients are always happy that we have them stocked. Overall, the food bags have built such a positive experience with the patient and created a great rapport with staff.”

See this document for more details on food insecurity and food bags available for patients: Food support at HH.2023.pdf

Hennepin County and the Bremer Foundation graciously provide funding for food bags.

Please get in touch with [email protected] with any questions.

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