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Hunger and Health Coalition and ARHS Partner to Support Patients Facing Food Insecurity


The Hunger and Health Coalition and ARHS partner to support patients facing food insecurity. After months of collaboration, a new partnership between Boone’s longest running food pantry and the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is ready to deepen the care provided to food insecure patients.


Food insecurity affects 25% of Watauga County households. In a healthcare setting, that can lead to longer recovery times and more readmissions for issues that could be prevented with more support. Working together, The Hunger and Health Coalition and the team at Watauga Medical Center have collaborated to provide food distribution to patients at the hospital and continuing support after being released.


”Assessment of food insecurity and connecting people to resources is an important part of Care Management at ARHS.  I am thrilled to be collaborating with Hunger and Health Coalition. We assess patients admitted to the hospital to see if they have concerns of running out of food and don’t have money to buy more. What we see is that people often don’t take prescribed medications or opt out of necessary medical appointments because they need to spend what little money they have on food. Connecting people to resources in their community not only impacts their health but the health and wellbeing of those in their household. Our mission is to improve the health of our community!” says Robin Fox, System Director of Care Management for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.


Patients will be screened for food insecurity upon entering the hospital by the Care Management team. Patients who lack access to a basic healthy diet will be provided with a food box upon exiting the hospital, and referred to the Hunger and Health Coalition for the ongoing support provided at the organization.


“We are extremely pleased to partner with the Hunger and Health Coalition to identify patients who may have food insecurity. Just imagine for a moment recovering from surgery or experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy – and not knowing when your next meal will be.” says Chuck Mantooth President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, “Extenuating circumstances like these often complicate healing and recovery. We feel it’s our duty and obligation to help patients in any way that we can.”


This innovative program is found in only a few cities in North Carolina and is the first of its kind in the High Country. Screening and addressing food insecurity in hospital patients takes a holistic approach to the health of the individual, and seeks to address the root causes of the issue causing the hospital visit. This new program will deepen the patient-practitioner relationship, as well as the bonds between two of Boone’s strongest community healthcare resources.


“We are so proud to be able to work in conjunction with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s team to assist individuals and families within our community who are struggling to meet their most basic of needs”, states Elizabeth Young, Executive Director of the Hunger and Health Coalition. “We believe in food as medicine and see this as a way to help prevent unnecessary readmissions due to food insecurity and an incredibly important avenue to help eliminate the impossible choice between affording food or life-sustaining medications”.


For more information, contact HHC Executive Director Elizabeth Young at 828-262-1628 or director@hungerandhealthcoalition.com.