URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — According to feeding America, Champaign County has over 20,000 people who are food insecure, and they expect that number to grow by the end of the year.
Carle has a new program to help food-insecure patients.
Pam Bigler, Vice President of Carle Foundation Hospital, says that too many patients get readmitted to the hospital because they had to choose between food or their medication. To help patients who may have to make that decision, Carle has a pilot program that makes boxes of food for their patients. The boxes have five days worth of food, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
To help patients who may not know how to cook the meals, Carle has recipes and a meal plan inside. They also meet with a dietitian to make sure they have the skills to make the food.
“We want them to have their meds and we want them to have something to eat,” Bigler said. “You have to eat to get well, especially post-surgical patients. We also need them to eat the right food if they’re our heart patients, our diabetic patients.”
To help patients continue to eat healthy after the five days are up, Carle teamed up with the social services department. Before the days run out, a social security person will meet with the patient and teach them where their local food pantries and food banks are.
Right now the program is in the pilot phase. Carle plans to expand to other locations and add fresh food to the mix once the program is fully approved.