LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Baptist Health is setting out to make a positive impact in the lives of patients facing food insecurity and contribute to better health for the state through a new program called Food Rx.
The health care system will open a food pantry Oct. 1 to initially serve patients at Baptist Health-Little Rock, Baptist Health-North Little Rock and Baptist Health-Conway as well as three clinics. The goal is to expand Food Rx to other regions in a future phase.
“On any given day, there are a significant number of patients in Baptist Health hospitals and clinics who are in need of food and will return to a problem of food insecurity when they are discharged to their homes,” said Teresa Conner, system director of Baptist Health Community Outreach, which is coordinating the program. “Food Rx gives our patients facing these challenges the means to help change that.”
According to the Arkansas Foodbank, Arkansas has the second-worst rate in the country for the percentage of people in the state facing the challenges of food insecurity, which is defined as not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of food.
Food insecurity has been identified as a determinant of poorer health outcomes, an increase in chronic conditions and added health care costs. Worse, it can lead to hunger conditions for adults and children in that household. And although food insecurity is typically associated with lower income, it can affect households with a range of economic backgrounds due to other factors such as older age, disability and other social conditions.
As part of Food Rx, patients at Baptist Health’s hospitals in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway will be screened by system nurses at bedside or through MyChart assignment to identify those who are in need of food. These patients will then be eligible to receive a bag of food from the pantry for their return home.
In addition to the three-day supply of food patients will receive from the food pantry, they will get a resource list of other food pantries and community services that can help them, and Baptist Health dietitians will provide healthy recipes and instructions on how to make meals stretch.
Baptist Health Foundation will also play a role in securing donations for the program. Bank of America has already contributed $15,000 toward the effort.
For nearly 100 years, Baptist Health has delivered all our best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit baptist-health.com, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.