Inland Hospital is working with the Good Shepherd Food Bank on a pilot project to provide emergency food kits at medical practices. By asking patients questions like “Have you run out of food or feared running out in the last 12 months?” during medical visits. When the need is obvious, the care provider alerts the Community Health Navigator, Bridgette Gemelli, who will help the patient with local food resources.

Because often there is an immediate need, Good Shepherd started providing Inland with rescue kits of food: cans of tuna and chicken, rice, pasta, peanut butter, shelf-safe milk, fruit, vegetables, oats and soup mixes. This is enough food for two or three days giving a person time to get to a food pantry, soup kitchen or another resource.
Food kits are delivered by Good Shepherd to local food banks and Gemelli picks them up for delivery to participating medical practices.
Gemelli said it’s difficult for anyone to focus on health needs when the immediate worries are about whether there is food enough for the next meal, how to pay the rent, repair the car or get to appointments.

Inland Hospital puts a local resource guide for local foods and essentials in each kit.

“The kits are a way to bridge the gap between hunger and getting to a food bank or other services and community resources,” said Gemelli, who has been Community Health Navigator for two years at Inland Hospital.

It’s all about connectedness. Connecting physicians, women’s health providers and community services for health, nutrition, transportation, communication such as safe-link phones and other needs.

Waterville has a resource guide online at:
Among the Waterville resources are:
•Waterville Food Bank at United Methodist Church, 61 Pleasant Street.
• Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen at Sacred Heart Church, 70 Pleasant Street.
•Evening Sandwich Program at Universalist-Unitarian Church, 69 Silver Street.
• Sandwich Program at First Baptist Church, 1 Park Street.
• Spectrum Generations at Muskie Center, 38 Gold Street.
• Meals on Wheels at Muskie Center, 38 Gold Street.
• Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter at 19 Colby Street.

Some have residency requirements, proof of age/disability, ID. Some require no screening.

Other towns provide support through food pantries, Community Supported Agriculture programs, farmer’s markets, summer backpack program and the federal Women Infants and Children’s nutrition programs (WIC).

“Food insecurity is a real problem in our area. We are very grateful to the Good Shepherd Food Bank for the emergency food kit program,” said Loraine Paradis, DO, a primary care physician with Inland Family Care in Madison. “I have had several patients get emotional and hug me when I tell them I have an emergency bag of food for them. Some patients are in dire straits with no money coming in and are really struggling to afford food, let alone pay bills.”

Inland Family Care-Waterville location: 16 Concourse West
Beyond Waterville, other Inland Family Care locations include: Oakland, 74 water St.; Unity, 80 Main St.; Madison/Skowhegan, 344 Lakewood Road.

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