Novant Health NHRMC partners with Food Lion for food pharmacy program

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Food Lion are joining forces to help families in need, launching the Food Pharmacy Pilot Program.

Through the 2-year pilot program, Food Lion will distribute nearly 3,000 boxes of non-perishable food to people participating in the program.

The main focus of the program is to help address food insecurity among hospital patients, while also encouraging them to use healthy foods as medicine to help manage chronic illnesses.

“We’ve heard from patients the impact  that even a small box of shelf stable food can make, and I think it shows our commitment to addressing them as a whole person, not just their medical needs, but their social needs as well,” said Sarah Arthur, Novant Health Coastal Region Director of Community Engagement

Dieticians at the hospital assess patients who are at risk for malnutrition, they also screen for food insecurity.

Patients who qualify are eligible to receive a food pharmacy box upon discharge.

The food in the box are labeled using Food Lion’s “Guiding Stars System”, identifying its nutritional value.

“The three star rating system is simple. One star for good, two stars for better, and three stars for the best nutritional value. The rating system makes it easier, quicker to identify the items nutritional value for the patients to follow their physicians prescribed dietary guidelines,” said Jimmy Jones, Food Lion Director of Operations.

Dietician Catherine Hankins says malnutrition and food insecurity can have a big impact on a patient’s health.

“Because they don’t have enough energy in their bodies, from lack of food that inhibits their body from helping them to heal or to –just keeping the body strong can promote muscle loss, and all of that has an impact on how well the patient will get through a surgery or get through a treatment, and then heal beyond the surgery and beyond the treatments.” Catherine Hankins, Novant Health Zimmer Cancer Institute Oncology Dietician.

In addition to food, the food pharmacy box will include information on sustainable food resources, and program participants will also receive monthly coaching support through a Novant Health dietitian.

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