NSMC News Releases
Mass General Brigham Awards Nonprofit with United Against Racism Food Insecurity Grant
SALEM, Mass. - Salem Hospital is teaming up with My Brother's Table, the North Shore's largest soup kitchen, and The Haven Project, which supports at-risk youth, to launch Wicked Healthy IRL (In Real Life). The new program will employ young adults from The Haven Project to prepare healthy, fresh-produce smoothies using fresh produce in a way that is easily ingestible and appetizing to residents. The smoothies will be available in the My Brother's Table dining hall and delivered to downtown locations.
According to the American Dental Association, 42 percent of individuals have difficulty biting or chewing due to painful or missing teeth. Many of these same residents also suffer significant food insecurity, exacerbated by lost jobs and income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether due to poor oral health or financial constraints, these individuals are unable to consume fresh fruits and vegetables and suffer nutritional deficiencies as well as other negative health effects.
"People experiencing food insecurity get sick more often, are more likely to be hospitalized, and have higher rates of obesity, depression, and chronic illness - pre-existing health conditions that put individuals at higher risk of COVID-19 complications," says Tina McLoughlin, Salem Hospital Community Benefits Manager. "With the direct correlation between dental health and nutrition and our longstanding relationship with My Brother's Table, this smoothie program is one way we can help."
Since 2013, Salem Hospital has contributed $500,000 to local anti-hunger efforts made through My Brother's Table and the Lynn Health Task Force.
"The goal of this program is twofold: we are working to increase the consumption of calcium, potassium and Vitamin D through colorful fruits and vegetables while simultaneously providing public nutrition education, job training and employment for at-risk and homeless young adults, as well as fun, free and delicious beverages for all, regardless of ability to pay," says Dianne Kuzia Hills, Executive Director of My Brother's Table, which serves more than 9,000 residents and aims to deliver 300 smoothies daily.
The Haven Project will manage the training and production of the beverages. Youth will be paid a weekly stipend as part of the nonprofit's job training program. For many of the teens and young adults, this is will be their first paid job experience. In addition to young people preparing the smoothies, volunteers will help deliver them to downtown locations on "icicle tricycles."
"This program is a way for us to help employ our clients while helping to serve and feed the greater Lynn community," says Tracey Scherrer, Executive Director of The Haven Project. "We intend to rotate clients the youth staff through Wicked Healthy IRL in three-week intervals in order to give as many young people provide as many employment opportunities as possible to young people."
The launch of Wicked Healthy IRL is funded by a $100,000 United Against Racism: Food Insecurity Grant from Mass General Brigham, distributed to anti-hunger organizations working to create access points to fresh and health food for those in need across the Commonwealth.
About Salem Hospital
Salem Hospital is a member of Mass General Brigham, an academic healthcare system founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that is uniting great minds to make life-changing impact for patients in local communities and around the world. Serving the North Shore community for more than 100 years, Salem Hospital provides innovative medical, surgical and psychiatric care through an array of inpatient, outpatient and virtual settings including Salem Hospital, the Epstein Center for Behavioral Health, North Shore Physicians Group and a medical staff of nearly 700 physicians practicing in a wide range of specialties. For more information, please visit nsmc.partners.org. For information about Mass General Brigham, visit massgeneralbrigham.org.
About Mass General Brigham
Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a non-profit organization that is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.