The first of its kind, the facility reflects BayCare’s commitment to holistically addressing community health. The center will serve as a resource for visitors to Feeding Tampa Bay to live healthier lives, including providing health education materials, a Higi station for general health self-monitoring, and a private space for personal counseling. BayCare will also offer health and wellness events for those served at this unique location.
“We are thrilled to have BayCare’s partnership and presence here in the food bank,” said Thomas Mantz, president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay. “This new facility is an investment in the long-term health of our community, starting with nutrition which is essential to overall well-being. We all know that food is synonymous with health and this effort is a huge step forward. for our community.”
Bay Care CEO Tommy Inzina agrees, noting at the inaugural event that no amount of medicine can make up for hunger or poor nutrition.
“Any medical professional will tell you that food is the first medicine,” Inzina said. “Without good nutrition it is much more difficult to maintain health and no amount of medical intervention can compensate for what we need first: good and reliable access to food.”
BayCare began focusing much of its community benefit efforts on food insecurity after the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment revealed great need in the four counties it serves: Hillsborough, pinelles, Polk and Not co. This concentration became even more stark with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Feeding Tampa Bay and other service agencies reported significant spikes in demand for food.
Food insecurity is now BayCare’s primary focus for community awareness, from investing immediately in food for those in need, to enacting systemic changes that should help all patients meet their needs. nutritional. Food Tampa Baywith a footprint that matches BayCare’s service area, is a natural partner in this work.
In 2021, BayCare invested $450,000 to support 18 “Feeding Minds” public school pantries in working-class neighborhoods across Hillsborough, pinelles, Polk and Not co counties. These school pantries are stocked with a variety of healthy groceries to help parents provide meals for their children and help them thrive in school and in the future. Today, BayCare announced plans to more than double the number of Feeding Minds pantries to include 42 schools by the end of the year.
BayCare has also expanded the distribution of “healing bags” to patients at its 14 acute care hospitals. Starting last fall, each care coordination team began screening patients for food insecurity. Now, if a patient says they have needs and want support, the hospital’s nutritional services team gives them a Healing Bag. Each bag contains approximately 2-3 days of non-perishable food, provided by Feeding Tampa Bay. Last year, the BayCare team distributed more than 2,650 bags to patients who self-identified as food insecure.
“The data has really guided our plans, and our research clearly indicates a tremendous amount of food insecurity in our region,” said Keri Eisenbeis, vice president of government and community relations for BayCare. “BayCare’s clinical experience combined with the nutritional expertise of Feeding Tampa Bay creates a unique opportunity to truly improve the health of the community.”
SOURCE BayCare Health System