RWJBarnabas Health’s social impact and community investment practice tackles rising food insecurity in the wake of the pandemic

On April 13, 2022, Josephine’s Place, an Elizabeth-based welcoming space dedicated to providing women with safety, growth and empowerment opportunities, received boxes of fresh Common Market food delivered through a partnership with Trinitas Regional Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility.

RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest academic health care system, is partnering with Common Market to address food insecurity in 18 cities across the state, from Jersey City to Toms River.

The partnership began following the pandemic. In 2020, due to disruptions in local food supply chains, RWJBarnabas Health observed that its long-time community partners – local churches and food pantries – ran out of food for families in need.

Through RWJBH’s social impact and community investment practice, a program developed to address food insecurity, employment, housing, and many other social determinants of health; RWJBH has found new ways to connect communities in need with farm-fresh food staples.

In 2021, RWJBH partnered with Common Market to provide Boxes of farm fresh produce local produce, freshly baked bread, eggs and yogurt to RWJBH hospitals across the state, whose intern delivered the boxes to local food distribution sites, such as churches and food pantries.

RWJBH hospitals serve as bridges between farms, hospitals and tables. This partnership supports eight family farms and distributed 3,470 Farm-Fresh boxes, the equivalent of 54,800 pounds of food and 65,760 healthy meals.

RWJBH continues this partnership in 2022 with deliveries planned throughout the year.

“This farm-to-table model creates viable markets for farmers, while improving access to healthy food for patients, staff and local community members who live in food deserts without access to healthy foods,” said Barbara Mintz, senior vice president. , Social Impact and Community Investment, RWJBarnabas Health.

These communities struggle with obesity and its related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, all of which are among the leading causes of preventable premature death.

Four in ten adults living in the United States struggle with obesity, which puts them at risk for related diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, all of which are listed among the leading causes of preventable premature death.

Although obesity has a widespread impact nationwide, it disproportionately affects those who live in food deserts or generally low-income areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Lack of access to fresh, nutritious food can not only lead to obesity and weight issues, but can also lead to hunger and malnutrition, as the food choices available lack vital nutrients.

For more information, visit Social Impact and Community Investment.

Jill E. Washington