Food Insecurity Program
At Northern Light Acadia Hospital, we understand that lack of food can have a damaging effect on public health. Food insecurity prevents far too many people from consuming a balanced diet, which in turn increases their risk for chronic disease and mental illness. Lack of food and malnutrition can increase the risk of hypertension, asthma, tooth decay, anemia, infection, and birth defects, and can cause undue stress and sometimes even starvation. Behavioral health issues linked to food insecurity can lead to depression, anxiety, and emotional imbalance. Low income populations are at especially high risk.
All of this has led Northern Light Acadia Hospital to earnestly address food insecurity in our region to help reduce related side effects and promote a healthier environment.
What we’re doing to help
To combat food insecurity, we have implemented early interventions and have teamed up with local partners such as Good Shepherd Food Bank to make food more readily available to those who need it. These include:
- Screening patients for food insecurity during their appointments and through various programs, such as Acadia’s Pediatric Day Treatment Program;
- Leveraging the Acadia Therapeutic Garden to supplement patient food bags with fresh produce for patients in need;
- Offering food bags to patients with enough shelf-ready food for two or three meals;
- Partnering with other community agencies to identify additional food insecurity resources.
In addition, thanks to our partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank, local Maine farmers are pleased to offer FREE fresh produce for Acadia Hospital patients on the third Friday of every month from 9 am to 3 pm. Drop by the table in the main lobby and we will be happy to connect you with healthy, fresh produce, grown right here in Maine!
What does this mean for you?
When patients visit Acadia, our clinicians, nurses, and psych techs will screen patients for food insecurity. When speaking with a member of our staff during your visit, you may be asked to respond one of four ways to the following statements:
It is important to note that these questions are asked of all patients, regardless of economic status, race, gender, education level and more, and all responses are held in strict confidence.
We recognize that these may be difficult conversations and that some people may feel uncomfortable having the discussion. We are here to help! By identifying patients who are food insecure, our goal is to provide them with food and resources to access more consistent healthy food and enhance their overall health – one more example of how Acadia Hospital is working to fulfill its mission of empowering people to improve their lives.
Additional resources and information: