The Wellness Pantry Program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Serves All Families in Need
Molly Fallon Dixon / Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
August 4, 2023
The Wellness Pantry at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC) was launched in 2019 serving pregnant women referred from our Women’s Health Center in need of food assistance. The pantry is run by NBIMC’s Wellness Services Dietitians in partnership with the Community FoodBank of NJ (CFBNJ) and provides healthy shelf-stable foods, fresh produce grown in NBIMC’s hydroponic greenhouse, diapers, and women’s menstrual products.
With assistance from the IHC grant program, we were able to expand referral services to our partners at Children’s Specialized Hospital, John F. Kennedy School in Newark, and additional departments within the medical center serving children with disabilities. This funding allowed us to work with our partners to customize referral processes that would best aid their patients and families while recognizing the added workflow for staff members. While it took time, we can confidently say that the referral stream is in place, and we are welcoming new families from our partners each week.
Additionally, we are excited to report on a pantry update made possible by leveraged funding from our IHC grant. The CFBNJ, impressed by our expansion of the referral stream for the pantry to serve families of children with disabilities, awarded NBIMC grant funding to bring in new refrigerators and a freezer for the pantry. We were able to replace a single residential refrigerator with two commercial-grade refrigeration units and a chest freezer, essentially quadrupling our storage capacity for fresh food. The refrigerators are currently stocked with fresh produce as well as breakfast and lunch meals for our Summer Meal Program, which provides meals to pantry families and neighborhood children to fill the summer meal gap experienced by children who typically receive free breakfast and lunch during the school year. The freezer will allow us to participate in the CFBNJ’s Thanksgiving turkey distribution, providing turkeys for our enrolled families’ holiday tables.
The IHC grant program has allowed us to deepen our work with our existing partners to create more meaningful connections benefitting our patients and the communities we serve. This opportunity has laid the foundation to allow us to equitably serve all the families who walk through our doors, and we will always be grateful for that!
For more information on the Wellness Pantry project, or food access initiatives at NBIMC, contact Molly Fallon at Molly.Fallon@rwjbh.org.