Adults struggling with hunger have higher risks for developing chronic diseases like depression, hypertension and diabetes. Children living in food insecure households are likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly, and be hospitalized more frequently, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Two-thirds of the people The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) serves report relying on a food pantry on a regular basis. Therefore, the food GBFB provides can impact their health.
GBFB sponsored the first study of the health-related costs of hunger and food insecurity in Massachusetts. Conducted by Children’s HealthWatch, and released in 2018, the in-depth analysis reports hunger and food insecurity in our state increased health-related expenditures by an estimated $2.4 billion at least, in 2016 alone.
The first food bank in the U.S. to hire a medical doctor, GBFB has established a Health and Research department that also includes a staff epidemiologist.
Our Health and Research department oversees our healthcare center partnerships and, in 2018, launched research on the effects of GBFB’s programs on diet, food-insecurity-related health outcomes, healthcare costs, and related impacts.
GBFB partners with nine healthcare centers located in low-income areas in Eastern Massachusetts. Our partnership program offers healthcare centers three types of support. Our partners can put into action just one or all three.
Currently, six of our partners offer patients free, produce Mobile Markets on site, serving more than 5,000 individuals every month. Five have conducted food-insecurity screenings, with more than 50 percent of patients at each center screening positive for food insecurity, more than five times the Massachusetts food-insecurity rate of 1 in 10.
GBFB’s healthcare center partners: