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SoutheastHEALTH Partners with Southeast Missouri Food Bank to Establish Hospital-Based Food Pantry

Community announcements | Posted Friday, February 4, 2022
SoutheastHEALTH Clinical Quality Analyst Tonya Meyer and Director of Case Management Dan Ryder with some of the food items in Southeast Hospital’s Patients Pantry, Heroes of Hope program.

SoutheastHEALTH recently announced a partnership with Southeast Missouri Food Bank to open a food pantry at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau. Patients Pantry, Heroes of Hope program, will provide two weeks of food to patients who have identified food insecurity.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Healthcare Services Group Charitable Foundation. The grant provided $25,000 in funding for the pantry.

“We know that food insecurity is a real issue in southeast Missouri, and it affects the health of our patients,” said Shauna Hoffman, vice president of marketing and business development for SoutheastHEALTH. “When a person doesn’t have access to enough nutritious foods, they’re not going to be able to regain their strength, make progress with their healing and keep their diabetes under control. The vision for this collaborative partnership is a result of the work Southeast’s Transition of Care team has accomplished, led by team manager Tonya Meyer and Director of Case Management Dan Ryder in collaboration with Southeast Missouri Food Bank.”

Under the program, SoutheastHEALTH will screen patients to determine food insecurity issues. Those who are identified will receive a box of food to take home with them upon discharge. More importantly, individuals will be connected to other food assistance services the food bank provides, such as access to food pantries, enrollment for a monthly senior food box or help applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“We already know that people who are food-insecure are more likely to have chronic diseases and therefore have more frequent visits to their doctor or the hospital,” said Joey Keys, chief executive officer of the food bank. “We’re so glad to see SoutheastHEALTH take this innovative step in providing hospital patients with food and getting them connected to the services they need. We hope to establish more partnerships like this in the future.”

A recent study by the Bread for the World Institute found that hunger and food insecurity cost the U.S. economy more than $160 billion in poor health outcomes, an amount higher than all state and federal spending on higher education. Food-insecure adults have annual health expenditures of more than $1,800 per person. Chronic illness morbidity and mortality, low-birth-weight infants, and more frequent neonatal births, hospitalizations, and lengths of stay are also associated with poor nutrition.