MENANDS — People living with chronic illnesses and facing the lack of food will be helped in part from a $300,000 donation from Hannaford Supermarkets.
Hannaford on Thursday presented a check for $300,000 to The Food Pantries for the Capital District for their Healthy Meal Delivery program. The program offers fresh and nutritious food to individuals and families in need who also suffer with chronic health issues.
“Here in the U.S. more than 50% of patients who are in hospitals are either food insecure or at risk of becoming food insecure,” said Natasha Pernicka, executive director for The Food Pantries for the Capital District. “It really impacts the health of the lives of so many people in this country.”
The Food Pantries have seen this for years, Pernicka said. The organization runs a food access referral phone line, she said.
“People call our line when they are released from the hospital home,” Pernicka said. “They’re unable to cook, due to whatever they are recovering from, they don’t have money and their refrigerator is empty. So we always knew there was something we needed to do to help people with that transition from hospital to home.”
A home with one individual struggling with food insecurity almost always means the entire household is struggling with food insecurity, Pernicka said. Nutritious food can often help children prevent some chronic illnesses , she noted.
The Food Pantries for the Capital District has developed a series of “Food as Medicine” programs over the past several years.
The donation is one component of Hannaford’s more than $1.5 million commitment across New York state and New England to support the concept referred to as “Food as Medicine,” said Andrea Nickerson, Hannaford’s vice president of retail operations.
The Food as Medicine movement focuses on the importance of a fresh and nutrient-rich diet as a critical component of a treatment plan for chronic health conditions, Nickerson said.
The donation will allow more participants to be enrolled in The Food Pantries for the Capital District’s healthy meal delivery program, she said.
“Hannaford has a long-standing commitment to nourishing our communities,” Nickerson said. “And we are so proud to be part of the continued fabric of the Capital Region community, particularly when it comes to improving access to nutritious foods and meals for those who need it most.”
The Food Pantry launched its Food as Medicine program in summer 2020, said Dr. Alex Alam El Din-Meeks, program manager for the The Food Pantries for the Capital District Food.
The prepared meals program offers medically tailored meals for those who qualify, Alam El Din-Meeks said. She explained participants receive three meals each day, seven-days a week for six months with an option to extend.
“This type of program is critical in supporting a person’s individual health journey, but also so much more than that,” Alam El Din-Meeks said. “In talking with participants, conducting focus groups with participants, we are able to hear that it really does impact more than just their diet alone in the numbers.”
Nutrition is an integral ingredient for the management of many medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis. said Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote of the Saratoga Community Health Center.
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