Hunger and food insecurity negatively impact health and are associated with a higher risk of chronic health problems. This is a significant issue in Chelsea, where one in eight residents struggles with food insecurity. The Food for Families program screens patients in the Obstetrics, Adult Medicine and Pediatric Departments at the MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center for food insecurity via a social determinants of health questionnaire completed while patients wait for their appointments. Patients who screen positively are connected to the Food for Families program.
Food for Families screens patients in several health center clinical departments for hunger and food insecurity. Staff follows up with patients who screen positively for food insecurity and connects families to local nutrition resources such as:
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the Food Stamp Program)
- WIC (Women, Infants and Children)
- local food pantries
- community meals
- our own food pantry, which is conveniently and discreetly located in the MGH Chelsea Health Center
We are committed to giving out healthy food options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables that are picked up weekly from the Greater Boston Food Bank. Another unique part of our program is that we are welcoming and available to our undocumented patients who cannot access public benefits. The program also works to educate providers within the health center about how food insecurity impacts MGH Chelsea patients and builds relationships with community leaders such as food pantry directors, social service agency staff, and SNAP benefit advocates to ensure continued access for patients seeking food resources.