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A Prescription for Better Nutrition

In a partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Cook County Health & Hospital System (CCHHS), a member of America’s Essential Hospitals, has begun screening pediatric patients for food insecurity and offering them assistance.

The pilot program is part of the county’s larger Cook County Food Access Plan. It aims to provide fresh produce to CCHHS patients and families who, due to financial constraints, reduced the frequency or size of their meals in the previous 12 months. Under the program, providers at CCHHS’ Logan Square Health Center ask pediatric patients questions about their access to food. Patients and families who screen positive for food insecurity are provided with:

  • a “subscription” for food vouchers that can be redeemed for no-cost fruit and vegetables available through the Food Depository’s FRESH truck, a walk-through refrigerated vehicle that visits the center;
  • a referral to the Food Depository’s SNAP Outreach Hotline, which offers assistance in applying for the federal nutrition program; and
  • information on nearby food pantries that are part of the Food Depository’s network.

The program is expected to expand to CCHHS’ Cottage Grove Health Center in February and reach all CCHHS facilities within two years.

What are you and your organization doing to address food insecurity in your community? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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About the Author

Michelle Rosenfeld is senior writer/editor at America's Essential Hospitals.

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