Delivering on its promise to provide one million healthy, free meals to the community, The MetroHealth System will join the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to distribute food at the Muni Lot downtown August 10 and 24.
MetroHealth’s sponsorship of the two Muni Lot Drive-Thru Distribution events is part of its Million Meals commitment, announced in 2022, to contribute $1 million to the Food Bank over five years. The events represent the ever-strengthening partnership between the two Cleveland organizations and their shared commitment to improving the health and lives of our neighbors in need.
The Drive-Thru Distribution events will operate from 1 to 4 pm at the City of Cleveland Muni Lot at 1503 South Marginal Road. Each household will receive a box of nutritious food including fresh produce and other nutritious foods for families. Boxes will be distributed only to recipients in vehicles. Each vehicle can pick up boxes for up to four households. Registration details are available here.
“MetroHealth and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank are two organizations that residents of Northeast Ohio know they can look to for help when they need it,” said MetroHealth President & CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE. “We must continue to break down silos and form meaningful partnerships if we truly want to improve the health and wealth of the communities we serve. This partnership just makes sense, and we look forward to building on it.”
Through its Institute for HOPE™, MetroHealth screens patients for their health-related social needs – often called the Social Drivers of Health (SDOH). Through those screenings, food insecurity has been identified as one of the top risks affecting patients. In fact, about 20% of respondents worry their food will run out, and they don’t have enough money to buy more. People who experience food insecurity are more likely to develop chronic illness. Once a chronic disease is established, food insecurity makes managing the illness more difficult. These correlations explain the motivation behind the close partnership between Cuyahoga County’s safety net hospital and the region’s largest hunger relief organization.
“We know that Social Drivers of Health (SDOH) – like insecurity in housing, transportation and, especially, food – have a greater impact on health and wellness than medical care,” said Kristen Matlack, Community Health Advocacy Initiative Manager for the Institute for HOPE™. “So, the strength of our community partnerships with organizations that can provide assistance with those needs is essential to our success in helping our patients live healthier lives. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is one of the most important of thoits partnerships. With our aligned missions, we make a good team.”
The Food Bank launched the Muni Lot drive-thru events in 2020 to comply with safety precautions necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic when need for the Food Bank’s services were especially high. The distribution events take place on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month.
“We are so grateful to MetroHealth for their ongoing partnership helping to provide low-income patients with the healthy food they need,” said Kristin Warzocha, President & CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “We cannot thank MetroHealth enough for its commitment to addressing food insecurity, and we will continue to work together to provide members of our shared community with nutritious foods and access to additional resources, helping our community members to thrive.”
MetroHealth collaborates with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to provide monthly produce distributions at MetroHealth’s Main Campus, Parma Medical Center and the Cancer Center and to make shelf-stable food boxes available to food-insecure patients during clinic hours at the Buckeye Opportunity Center. In 2022, the programs served 3,678 boxes of food – 90,217 meals – to 4,570 people in 1,576 households.
The partnership also benefits the Food as Medicine Clinic, a ground-breaking program at MetroHealth that provides a supply of nutritious food for patients experiencing food insecurity who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness affected by diet, including hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes. With a prescription from their provider, patients come to the clinic to receive a three-day supply of nutritious food for their household at no cost, in addition to nutrition education, recipes and other supports. The Clinic has locations at MetroHealth’s Main Campus and its Ohio City Health Center.
MetroHealth is the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s largest source of referrals of people in need through Unite Ohio, an electronic resource referral platform that connects health care providers and social service organizations to support patients and track outcomes.