Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Insecurity Program
At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, 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 Eastern Maine Medical Center 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 at specific locations for food insecurity during their medical appointments;
- Establishing an onsite garden at the Union Street Health Center in Bangor to provide fresh produce to 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.
We have also established a program with Hope House in Bangor to donate quality leftover food, unused by our cafeteria.
What does this mean for you?
When patients visit some of our practices, including Northern Light Family Medicine and Residency, Northern Light Cancer Care, and many of our primary care locations, our physicians are screening patients for food insecurity. When seeing a provider, 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 improve their health and lives.
Additional resources and information: