WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - One in four children in New Hanover County struggles with hunger, according to Nourish NC.
“Currently, we have the backpack program where we send kids home on the weekends and during school breaks with fresh food but Nourish NC has found we need to target children at more places,” said Steve McCrossan, executive director of Nourish NC.
One of those places is doctor’s offices.
“Historically, if you went to your doctor and told them you were struggling with hunger, the doctor couldn’t do anything inside the office but we wanted that to change,” McCrossan said.
This week, Nourish NC partnered with New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Nunnelee Pediatric Specialty Clinics to pilot the Food Farmacy Program.
“When the the children come into the office for a visit, they will be screened for food insecurities, and if they test positive, they will get a box of food right then and there,” McCrossan said. “Then we will give them a prescription for even more fresh food in our warehouse.”
During appointments, Nunnelee’s clinicians will assess children for food insecurity using the Hunger Vital Sign screening tool. If they are positive, they will get 25 meals of non-perishable food.
Then, each child will receive a “prescription” for 15-20 pounds of fresh produce, lean ground turkey, and wheat bread, which can be picked up at NourishNC.
“Food is medicine," McCrossan said. "What you put in your body, you are either feeding disease or encouraging it so we want to help these kids to fight the disease to be healthy and to be happy at the end of the day.”
If this pilot program with Nunnelee works, Nourish NC hopes to partner with every pediatric clinic in New Hanover County.