Since June 2019, the medical center has teamed with the Hinsdale Church and Hinsdale Family Medicine Center to help put healthy food on the table through a pilot program offered by the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Courtesy AMITA Health
AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale is partnering with three organizations to provide families in need and those with chronic medical conditions access to free, nutritious meals through the Rx Mobile Food Pantry.
Since June 2019, the medical center has teamed with the Hinsdale Church and Hinsdale Family Medicine Center to help put healthy food on the table through a pilot program offered by the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Community Memorial Foundation provided a grant to Northern Illinois Food Bank to support the program in Hinsdale.
Twice a month, for two hours each, a large refrigerated truck arrives at the Hinsdale church parking lot packed with healthy foods. The truck holds enough food to feed 150 families. Until it’s time to shop at the truck, participants can wait in the church’s fellowship hall where written recipes and resource handouts are provided at tables along with refreshments.
“As a church, we want to help our neighbors — not only to worship together, but to contribute to the community at large,” said associate pastor Edye Campos, Hinsdale Church, noting the church and medical center have a long history of working together. “People who are volunteering are so blessed to help the needy.”
To ensure the food distribution functions efficiently, Pastor Campos meets regularly with Julie Thomas, RN, MSN, CRRN, nurse case manager, AMITA Health Hinsdale Family Medicine Center and residency program, and Janet Kennedy, program manager, Mission Integration, AMITA Health.
“Many of these individuals have chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure,” said Thomas, noting a link between chronic disease and food insecurity. “The healthy food distributed at the mobile food truck is like a medicine. Providing this food will make an impact on the health and well-being of our guests and their families.”
At AMITA Health Hinsdale, guests are screened for food insecurity at the Hinsdale Family Medicine Center. Those in need are referred to the Rx Mobile Food Pantry which is open to anyone — no questions asked.
About 20 volunteers — including church members, students, AMITA Health associates, Family Medicine residents and Northern Illinois Food Bank workers — help with registration, truck set-up, food distribution and escorting guests through the line. Since the program started last June, the largest single distribution has served 115 families representing nearly 400 individuals. The mobile food pantry serves about 100 families per distribution, which is twice a month.
The pilot initiative will run through June 2020 in Hinsdale. The Food Bank and AMITA Health will then review the possibility of continuing the Rx Mobile Pantries on a regular basis.
“In the spirit of our healing mission, we are intentional to welcome each guest with open arms and a high level of dignity, compassion and respect,” Kennedy said. “Our volunteers live this mission throughout the outreach by making personal connections from the moment guests arrive at registration to the time they depart. I have witnessed several guests and volunteers huddled in conversation and prayer before they leave with a car filled with groceries. We are truly honored to deliver hope and healing through this pantry.”
Julie Busch, associate vice president, Internal Communications, AMITA Health