How Boston Medical Center writes prescriptions for groceries

Boston Medical Center launched an onsite "preventive food pantry" to provide patients in need with free groceries, according to an Oct. 31 athenaInsight blog post.

The majority of Boston Medical Center's patients are from low-income, underserved populations that often do not have access to affordable healthy food options. The goal of the program, which feeds 7,000 to 8,000 patient families each month, is to address potential nutrition-related illnesses.

All patients who present at Boston Medical Center are screened for food insecurity. Those who are eligible for the program receive a written prescription to pick up free groceries, including fresh fruits and vegetables. These grocery prescriptions are included in a patient's EHR, allowing providers to access information on whether individual prescriptions were filled.

"We're a therapeutic food pantry, so about half of our food is perishable, and we give foods that are medically appropriate for each patient's condition," Latchman Hiralall, manager of the pantry, explained to athenaInsight.

The pantry primarily subsists on donated food — receiving roughly 15,000 pounds in donations each week — and operates with an annual budget of $300,000, underwritten by hospital benefactors.

More articles on population health:
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