May 2, 2012
by Jaspreet Bindra

Jaspreet Bindra is the Programs Specialist here at Feeding America specializing in mobile pantries. She recently made a visit to Raleigh, NC and our member Inter-faith Food Shuttle. This is the second part of a series where she talks about her visit.

We said goodbye to the goats and hopped in the car for our next stop - Benson Area Medical Center in Benson, NC where the medical mobile distribution was taking place. The doctors at this medical center teamed up to provide care to their low-income patients and went a step further by partnering with Tri-County Community Health Center and Interfaith to provide a prescription of fresh fruits and vegetables to their patients, most of whom are diabetic. This partnership started in 2009 and the collaboration between different organizations helped to break down barriers to nutritious food and helped provide access to healthy food and additional resources. Clients are given a voucher by the physician which qualifies them to participate in the food distribution. Another way to qualify is through MAP (Medical Assistance Program) intended for North Carolina citizens who are uninsured or who qualify for Medicare coverage often find that they cannot afford the medications required to treat or ameliorate their chronic health problems. Clients present the voucher at the entrance and go through the line to pick out the product of their choice.

The medical center provides an enclosed warehouse space to stage the product and allow the clients to walk around to room and select their produce. They also provide a waiting area for clients to take a seat while they wait for the distribution to start. While the clients waited they had a chance to chat with Katherine Moser, the nutrition outreach coordinator provided by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Katherine made a sample of some of the product available for distribution that day for clients to try in the waiting room. She used collard greens for her sample and made a garden frittata with eggs ahead of time and brought it to the site. Once the clients had a chance to taste the frittata Katherine asked them what they thought. It was surprising to see that clients were not shy to express their opinion. Some thought the dish would taste better warm and others talked about how their recipe would make it taste better. It was a great dialogue and even I brought home some cooking tips to make my greens taste better! A printed recipe was provided for clients to try the dish at home. I thought it was great ingredients from the distribution that day for the sample so clients take home ideas and recipes to cook a certain ingredient that day for dinner.

Once the distribution started it was a very smooth process. Clients seemed to know one another as well as the clinic administrators. The distribution served about 60 individuals which is small compared to most distributions I have attended but this distribution was targeted to a specific population who had to qualify to attend. Clients walked through the line and selected items based on their doctor's prescription as well as personal taste. Some of the items available for the distribution I attended were potatoes, sweet potatoes, oranges, cabbage, lettuce, collard greens, green onions, peppers, etc. Everyone seemed so thankful for having fresh produce available to them through this distribution. Ms. Virginia, a regular client, took the time to speak to me on camera about her journey and what this distribution meant to her.

Tags: Food Bank Network , North Carolina

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