Englewood Health News, Serving Our Community

Englewood Health Working to Ease Food Insecurity

Hospital partners with Center for Food Action to feed families, support health needs 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the economic livelihoods of people in Bergen County and beyond, Englewood Health is providing resources and access to food through its new Food Insecurity Response Initiative (FIRI), in collaboration with the Center for Food Action (CFA)

After screening patients for food insecurity, hospital staff register those in need with the CFA. Within 24–48 hours, the CFA team books an appointment with the patient for food pickup or delivery every two weeks. Individuals who reside outside of Bergen County are connected to local resources in their area. 

The FIRI program began in early September in the mother/baby unit of the hospital, where nurses and social workers recognized growing concerns over where some patients would get their next meal upon leaving the hospital. Over the past few months, the FIRI program has grown to include patients of the Englewood Health Physician Network. Currently the program is expanding to patients in other departments and geographic areas, including Hudson County. 

“Englewood Health is committed to promoting health and wellness by providing high-quality care for our patients, as well as addressing some of the social determinants of health affecting our community,” said Jamie Ketas, vice president of quality at Englewood Health. “This program began as a response to the food insecurity of our patients and families, and has grown into a partnership to address these needs across Bergen and Passaic counties, with plans to expand even further.” 

Englewood Health has identified access to healthy foods as a pervasive issue existing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every three years, the hospital—and all nonprofit hospitals in the United States—perform a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), surveying healthcare issues in the 18+ population, identifying current efforts to address these issues, and formulating a three-year plan to work toward cultivating a healthier community. 

In the Englewood Health community, wellness and prevention, behavioral health, and management of chronic conditions have been identified as top priorities. These areas are further impacted by socioeconomic factors, which include access to healthy foods. 

“We are delighted to partner with Englewood Health in making sure individuals and families can put healthy food on their tables,” said Patricia Espy, executive director at the Center for Food Action. “Through this collaboration, low-income households at high risk for food insecurity receive packages containing meat or fish, milk, eggs, dairy items, fresh produce, and shelf-stable foods. Providing food regularly to those in need helps ensure good nutrition and reduces the level of stress for those struggling to make ends meet. We are grateful to Englewood Health for their leadership in building a healthier, more food-secure community.”

Posted on December 1, 2020

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