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A Prescription for a Pantry Refill—and Preventive Care

Fighting food insecurity improves health and prevents illness

Patients experiencing food insecurity often have to ask themselves an awful question: “Do I fill my prescription or my pantry?” The costs of food insecurity and hunger are high, and not only because patients experiencing food insecurity are nine times more likely to skip medications to save money for food. According to the USDA, direct healthcare costs related to hunger are $155 billion annually, and food insecurity has a direct relationship with other health conditions, such as depression and diabetes.

Thanks to Hurley Medical Center’s new food pharmacy, more patients in Flint, Michigan can now fill both their prescription and their pantry. Screening questions in Epic help primary care providers determine whether patients might be experiencing food insecurity or hunger. If they are, providers write a prescription to the pharmacy, where patients can receive healthy food, nutritional counseling from a registered dietician, and other resources, such as help enrolling in programs like SNAP. The pharmacy, which opened on August 1, is expected to serve over 200 families each month.

“Getting the question asked of whether there is a food need in the home is groundbreaking,” said Kara Ross, vice president of partnerships and external affairs for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.  “That way, we can get these wrap around services and nutritional services to the home faster.”

Read more here. A program similar to Hurley’s is available to members of the Epic community. New and existing community members can download the program here and have Epic staff install it as part of Epic’s Services.