July 22, 2024

Addressing Food Insecurity in Dialysis Units

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When deciding on a Capstone project to round out her final semester in a Master of Public Health program, Kimberly Elliott (MPH, RD, CSR) saw the perfect opportunity for her assignment, and more importantly, to better her community through her expertise and The Power of Food.

The process starts by screening the patients and finding out if they need food today, this month, etc. Then the dietitians work together with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to pick and organize foods/ingredients that are lower in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus and will best benefit the patients who are in need of this resource. Kimberly also goes the extra mile by finding various frugal recipes for the patients to try, and even adjusting the recipes if needed to ensure they are renal-friendly. She even orders fresh fruit or vegetables to pair with the shelf-stable goods. Once the ingredients and recipes are planned out, Kimberly gathers a team to put together the individualized bags for participating patients. The team makes a fun event out of this process though, and twice a month, they lay everything out on the table in a conference room and begin an assembly line to create bags of supplies for an average of about 100 patients.

Not only does this food pharmacy provide these patients with these free food items, but it also doubles as a way to educate the patients every day on what they should and shouldn’t be eating while they go through dialysis. Kimberly has always liked community nutrition, and this was a great way to tie in the clinical team and be sure that all of the patients are living their healthiest lives while still enjoying the food they are allowed to eat. She also shares that none of this would be possible without the help of the Blue Ridge Food Bank, whose funding and passion for creating food equity are helping improve the lives of these dialysis patients.

Food banks across America just like Blue Ridge are helping in efforts such as this food pharmacy at Kimberly’s account every day, but they are made more successful through the support of their communities. If you are interested in donating to a food bank near you to help make a difference in the lives of others, or if you are in need of food programs and/or resources, click here to find a location near you.

 

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