Northwell Launches Second Program to Address Food Insecurity at Southside Hospital - The Jewish Voice
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Northwell Launches Second Program to Address Food Insecurity at Southside Hospital

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Northwell Health recently announced the launch of its second Food as Health program at Southside Hospital. Last week’s launch follows the success of its first program launched in 2018 at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Valley Stream. The Food as Health Program is the first New York State hospital-based initiative to comprehensively address food insecurity among patients.

The unique program, is a partnership with Island Harvest Food Bank and includes Long Island Cares Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank, God’s Love We Deliver, US Foods and Baldor and is designed to address the full range of factors that can lead to food insecurity, including affordability issues, a lack of nutritional awareness, transportation/mobility problems and difficulty in preparing meals.

Patients at both Southside and LIJ Valley Stream with a diagnosis impacted by nutrition are screened and those who are identified as food insecure receive a nutrition consultation. In addition, these patients receive “navigation” to community food resources by an on-site Island Harvest Food Bank registered dietitian, either in the hospital’s Food as Health Center or in their hospital room. At discharge these patients are given a two-day supply of fresh produce and non-perishable food (provided by Baldor Foods and US Foods) and a “prescription” for two refills. If patients have transportation or mobility issues, LI Cares will deliver emergency food supplies to their homes.

Northwell Health recently announced the launch of its second Food as Health program at Southside Hospital

“We now have food pharmacies in two of our hospitals and in the next four years we want to put food pharmacies in all of our hospitals,” said Ram Raju, MD, Northwell’s senior vice president and community health investment officer. “As a wellness organization, we believe the only way to make a substantial and lasting difference in the health of the people in our community is by addressing some of the nonclinical factors that are holding them back.”

In the month since Southside first introduced the program, 450 patients have been screened and more than 20 have received nutritional assistance. “Being on a fixed income, I know firsthand how difficult it is to eat well,” said Charles Howson, a Westhampton resident who recently enrolled in the program. “This program has taught me how to eat better and make positive changes to my diet.”

“Having access to healthy food is just as important, if not more so, in treating illnesses as taking medications,” said Donna Moravick, NP, executive director of Southside Hospital. “We can’t address chronic disease in our patients unless we address the food issues that come along with it.”

Research shows that 1.3 million people throughout the New York metropolitan area are food insecure, which increases the risk of chronic disease, lengthens hospital stays, raises the likelihood that readmission will be needed and inflates health care costs. In Suffolk County alone, it is estimated that 95,540 people are food insecure.

“We are honored to be working with Northwell Health in providing people with the knowledge of how to navigate their community’s resources as well as supplying them with food and nutritional guidance,” said Randi Dresner, Island Harvest Food Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Northwell to ensure that the message of access to nutritious food along with good medical care, remains an essential part of ensuring a healthy community.”

For more information about Southside’s Food as Health program, call Jillian Shotwell, Northwell Health’s program manager of population health initiatives, at 516-600-1496.

About Northwell Health

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, about 750 outpatient facilities and more than 13,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 70,000 employees – 16,000-plus nurses and 4,000 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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