Greenville, N.C. (WNCT)- Nearly one in eight Americans are food insecure and students at Brody School of Medicine are aiming to decrease that statistic by starting a new medical food pantry.
"In the Greenville area, you'll have about 25-30 percent of people suffering from food insecurities," said Ebone Evans, third year medical student.
Students are hosting a food drive to benefit the new food pantry. The pantry is being created in hopes of helping those with food insecurities.
"A lot of the times in a hospital we screen this by asking the patients two questions, was there ever a time you had to stretch the food for the month or for the week," said Evans, "or was there ever a time that you were worried about the amount of food you have?"
The pantry will provide emergency food boxes to patients in need.
"Right now this is a pilot project with Vidant and we're focusing more on hospitalized patients," said Dr. Susan Keen, director of the service learning track, "but eventually we hope to be able to grow the program to include patients throughout all of the clinics at ECU who have this need."
For many patients, Medicaid pays for their transportation to doctor visits but not to places they can get healthy food. The new pantry will help solve that issue.
"By having the food pantry associated with the hospital patients are able to get food while at the hospital or while visiting their clinic," said Shahzeb Khan, a third year medical student,"and then they're able to go home and then they have the diet we want to prescribe them so we'll be able to prescribe them various diets based on their needs."
Students collected over 884 lbs. of donated food during their November food drive and are excited to open the pantry within the next few weeks.
"I'm very proud of our students for their hard work their doing and their reaching out to patients in our area that are in need," said Dr. Keen.
Donation boxes can be found throughout Vidant hospital.
Organizers strongly urge the public to only donate nonperishable and canned foods low in sodium and sugar.
Suggested Items Include:
• Fruits (no sugar added): applesauce, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, tropical fruit, dried fruit
• Vegetables (no salt): asparagus, artichokes, green beans, collard greens, carrots, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, okra, spinach, tomatoes, corn, lima beans, pumpkin
• Grains: Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, grits, wheat tortillas, quinoa, plain oatmeal, corn bread mix, cereals with less than 10g of sugar per serving
• Beans (dried or canned):pinto, navy, black, kidney, white, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lima, lentils, baked beans
• Meat/protein: canned chicken breast, salmon, tuna, and no-sugar-added peanut butter
• Dairy: dried, powered or evaporated milk in boxes, pouches or cans