Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has expanded its food donation program in an effort to fight food insecurity.
In 2021, the healthcare system teamed up with the YMCA of Memphis and Mid-South to launch the program and distribute meal kits to school-aged children. The program recently expanded to add Methodist North Hospital as a new meal pickup location, according to a press release.
The program originally launched at the YMCA and at Methodist South Hospital. Last fall, Methodist University Hospital joined in. Initially, the latter hospital had about 50 families participating, but now it distributes about 150 meal kits weekly.
"Addressing food insecurity is a major priority for our healthcare system," said Marcus Ross, director of community engagement and social determinants of health for Methodist North Hospital, in a statement. "We know about half the patients who seek care at our flagship hospital are food insecure. That means when they are discharged from the hospital, they lack resources and access to nutritious food options when they return home."
Food insecurity is top of mind for many foodservice operations. An estimated one in 10 Americans struggle with food insecurity, according to the American College of Physicians. And healthcare teams have been fighting against food insecurity in multiple ways.
One common strategy is partnerships. UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, for example, has teamed up with nonprofit We Don’t Waste to put uneaten food to use and last year donated 15,000 pounds of food, including frozen meals, fresh fruits, vegetables and bread.
Another operation, Trinity Health, offers a meal subscription box with locally sourced food, and gives one box free to those experiencing economic hardships. In addition, it offers the boxes on a sliding scale that allows subscribers to pay different rates based on their income.