WBZ Cares: First Food Bank To Hire Medical Doctor

Greater Boston Food Bank (Photo: Greater Boston Food Bank/Facebook)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling the Greater Boston Food Bank, which is working to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts.

The Greater Boston Food Bank is the first food bank nationwide to hire a medical doctor on staff. Dr. Katherine Brodowski says her goal is to raise awareness about the connection between hunger and health.

“In adults, food and security has been linked with diabetes, depression, hypertension. There’s numerous problems also among children who are living in food insecure households. They are at increased risk for poor brain development, iron deficiency, anemia and increased mental health and behavioral challenges,” Dr. Brodowski said.

The food bank is partnering with community health centers, providing free farmers markets in their parking lots. They're also offering health centers a three-question screening tool for determining whether patients are food insecure.

Dr. Brodowski says the results have been concerning, “We are actually finding screening rates of 59 percent. In one case, 67 percent. So that’s nearly six-times the state level for food insecurity which is very eye-opening.”

The food bank also gives doctors the tools they need to help a person if they’re determined to be food insecure.

“That’s where we really try to raise awareness and empower them with how to connect to local resources, whether it’s our mobile markets or what’s available in their community. Where is the nearest local food pantry? How do you sign up for SNAB? WICK?,” Dr. Brodowski stated.

Dr. Brodowski says the food bank's first-of-its-kind health and wellness program is catching on nationwide, “Typically get one foodbank a month calling and asking to set up a time to just talk. What’s our model, what lessons we learned? Part of our hope is to not only engage with the medical community, but also with our brother and sister food bank organizations to really show what programs we have, how we are raising awareness and then learn from each other.”

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports

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