FARMINGTON – On September 13 Hannaford Supermarkets and the Hannaford Charitable Foundation announced a $350,000 donation to MaineHealth in support of its Food As Medicine program, which prioritizes wholesome, fresh and nutritious foods as part of a comprehensive health care plan for under-resourced individuals and families with chronic health conditions.
The donation is one component of an overall $1.5 million commitment from Hannaford to support healthy meal programs in New England and New York through its new “Eat Well, Be Well – A Path to Better Health” initiative. The program highlights the importance of nutritious food in maintaining long-term wellness for food insecure individuals with a history of chronic illness.
“At Hannaford, we have long believed that healthy, fresh food is a critical ingredient to ensuring the vitality of our communities,” said Hannaford Charitable Foundation Board Chair Peter Forester, who also serves as senior vice president of merchandising for the grocery retailer. “Healthy meal programs break down the barriers that many individuals face in regularly accessing the wholesome, nutritious meals that their bodies and minds need. We look forward to seeing these programs grow and become an integral part of person-centered care in the years to come.”
The $350,000 donation to MaineHealth will support the introduction of a Food As Medicine program at Franklin Community Health Network, which includes Franklin Memorial Hospital, in Farmington. Facilitated by Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County, the one-year pilot program serves individuals with one or more chronic health conditions who have limited access to healthy food and have a MaineHealth primary care provider.
The MaineHealth Food Pantry at Franklin provides program participants with access to free, healthy food sourced primarily from Good Shepherd Food Bank. Participants also receive access to peer support, goal setting, healthy cooking classes, recipes, and menu planning with a health educator. Participants are referred to the program by healthcare providers. The program launched in June 2022.
“We’re thrilled with this partnership with Hannaford and members of our communities to use food as a tool to improve health, just as we do with medicine,” said Dora Anne Mills, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Health Improvement Officer at MaineHealth. “This partnership exemplifies our vision at MaineHealth of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.”
Additionally, the funding will support a healthy meal delivery program for Mainers recently discharged from the hospital with certain heart disease diagnoses under the direction of Dr. Mylan Cohen. The program, which delivers heart-healthy meals directly to an individual’s home, allows patients to focus on their recovery while providing nutrient-rich dishes tailored to their specific needs.
The “Eat Well, Be Well – A Path to Better Health” initiative recognizes the important role of healthy, fresh foods in a person’s overall well-being. Sitting at the crossroads of nutrition and healthcare, the concept commonly referred to as “Food As Medicine” focuses on the prioritization of a fresh and nutrient-rich diet as a critical component of a comprehensive treatment plan for chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Studies have demonstrated that medically-tailored nutrition intervention can accelerate treatment and recovery for patients with chronic health conditions, while lowering healthcare costs by reducing utilization and hospital admissions. Data collected through the Hannaford-funded projects will be used to help establish sustainable funding streams for healthy meal programs within each partner organization.
“What we eat matters. When access to healthy food is limited or nonexistent it can mean the difference between a good quality of life or losing a battle with chronic disease. What we put in our bodies fuel our health outcomes,” said LeeAnna Lavoie, M.P.H, Director of the Healthy Community Coalition. “We’re so fortunate to have this funding to develop a program for our patients, provide them the access to these foods, while supporting them through behavior change and building lifelong skills.”
The new “Eat Well, Be Well – A Path to Better Health” initiative further illustrates Hannaford’s longstanding commitment to supporting organizations and programs that keep its communities healthy and thriving. In 2021, Hannaford donated 25 million pounds of food to local hunger relief organizations. In 2019, Hannaford introduced its “Fuel Kids at School” program with a $1 million commitment to establish 90 food pantries at schools across the Northeast.
To learn more about the overall impact of Hannaford’s “Eat Well, Be Well – A Path to Better Health” initiative, view the video at https://vimeo.com/747421422.
For more information about Hannaford’s community efforts and charitable giving initiatives, visit Hannaford.com/HannafordHelps.