Boston, MA – March 16, 2016 – The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England, today announced Kathryn Brodowski, MD, MPH as its first director of public health and research. Her hire comes as a result of a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health practicum report that suggests community healthcare and hunger-relief organizations are natural allies. Dr. Brodowski will work to create partnerships between GBFB and local hospitals and community health centers to connect those in need with healthy food and other critical resources.
Brodowski, with support from GBFB’s Food Security Task Force, will translate research being done in Massachusetts and across the country into evidence-based programs to support GBFB’s mission to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts. Through her efforts, she will take on an advocacy role to raise awareness about the connection between hunger and health. She will also foster collaboration and coordination among local organizations to encourage more health care professionals to screen for food insecurity using the Hunger Vital SignTM, allowing hospitals and health centers to serve as bridges in connecting those in need with the critical healthy food resources that GBFB provides.
Brodowski will ensure GBFB leverages its logistical and distribution capacities to provide food for new partners. Her current plans are to roll out produce mobile markets at one to two pilot sites in the near future. She also will advance a resource network and referral system to address hunger. Following best practices recommended by Children’s HealthWatch, Brodowski hopes to empower providers by giving them a “tool kit” of practical steps they can take to connect those in need with local resources.
Engagement with the health care community is not something new for GBFB. In 2001, GBFB worked with Boston Medical Center (BMC) to establish the first hospital-based food pantry in the country. “The connection between food insecurity and health care is critical to not only identifying more people who are struggling to have enough to eat, but also supporting long-term health. Poor nutrition is often linked to many chronic diseases, which impacts one’s ability to be successful in life, work, school and beyond. It’s all connected,” said Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center. “Our partnership with The Greater Boston Food Bank to open our onsite food pantry was groundbreaking – we are able to promptly refer and then connect patients directly with the healthy food they need. We are proud of this partnership and the good health care we are providing and hope others will follow the same model. ”
Brodowski has a history of community engagement and forging ties between medical centers and local organizations. Prior to joining GBFB, Brodowski served as chief preventive medicine (public health) resident at UMass Medical School where she developed and designed a “Food Insecurity Population Health Clerkship,” drafted food insecurity policy recommendations, and worked as a nutrition instructor for low-income families. Brodowski received her medical degree from University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine and her MPH in nutrition from UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
“The results of our practicum with Harvard School of Public Health showed that we need to take a stronger role in advocacy, particularly with health centers’ screening for food insecurity, which has been linked to lower overall health, depression, and risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of GBFB. “Kathryn will help us to better understand the health outcomes of the food we provide, enabling us to forge strategic partnerships with health centers and organizations and improve our ability to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts.”
About The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. GBFB distributes more than 54 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 member hunger-relief agencies and more than 30 direct service programs throughout Eastern Massachusetts in a dedicated partnership to end hunger in our region. This provides 45 million meals annually for as many as 500,000 people. GBFB is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. For more information, visit us at GBFB.org, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank), or call us at (617) 427-5200.