One in three children in the Bronx faces food insecurity, with inconsistent access to the healthy foods they need to live an active life, putting them at risk of childhood obesity and obesity-related conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) is partnering with Stop & Shop and About Fresh to address the issue through a pilot program called Fresh Connect that aims to ensure Bronx families have access to well-balanced, nutritional meals.
The six-month pilot program will support approximately 100 families identified by pediatricians and community health workers through Montefiore Einstein’s social needs screening, which takes place at its primary care locations, as well as some patients receiving care with CHAM’s Adolescent Eating Disorder Program. The community health workers are local, trusted experts who screen families, identify social challenges and connect them to needed resources.
The CHAM families selected for the Fresh Connect program will receive debit cards to buy $100 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables each month at Stop & Shop markets.
The Fresh Connect program launches at a crucial time. Over the past few months, millions of Americans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits lost additional payments that were temporarily provided during the pandemic. “All parents want their kids to have a healthy start,” said Suzette O. Oyeku, MD, MPH, Chief, Academic General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, and Professor, Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “This is one of the best examples of coming up with innovative ways to support our community.”