Food Insecurity Program Supports Homebound Patients with Access Limitations

assortment of health, non-perishable foods, displayed on a table in front of a reusable grocery bag

Emergency food packages feature a variety of nutritious, non-perishable items for homebound and chronically ill patients.

In an effort to combat the pervasive challenge of food insecurity among Maine’s homebound and chronically ill populations, MaineHealth Care at Home (MHCAH) has partnered with the MaineHealth Food Insecurity Program and the Good Shepherd Food Bank to offer food assistance to patients in need.

During their scheduled visits with patients, clinicians will regularly assess for food insecurity by using a MaineHealth questionnaire. If it is determined that the patient is in need of assistance, the clinician will arrange for the delivery of an emergency package. In addition, MHCAH will dispatch a home health social worker to assist the patient in accessing community resources, including MaineHealth’s Patient Assistance Line, which is equipped to address the long-term needs of patients.

The program is part of a system-wide focus on healthy food access at MaineHealth. Jennifer Morin, director of nursing at MHCAH, oversaw the beta testing of the initial program launch across the York County region.

“We have the unique opportunity to go into the patient’s home and get a true feel for their living conditions. With this opportunity comes the responsibility of assessing the needs of the patient, whether they be medical, psychosocial, economic—whatever they may be, we want our clinicians to be able to recognize areas in which we can help and have the tools to make a difference. This program has proven to be a valuable resource”

− Jennifer Morin

Recently released statistics show that nearly one in six Maine families face food insecurity to some degree. In addition to being a goal of the federal government through their Healthy People 2030 initiative, MaineHealth’s goal is to help more people access healthy food and thus, improve the health of people in our local communities. Given that homebound patients experience elevated difficulties with mobility and isolation, the program has unsurprisingly seen an increase in demand with plans to expand to more service areas in the near future.

What is food insecurity?

Health and hunger are closely connected. Food insecurity means not having steady access to affordable, healthy food. Not being able to access healthy and nutritious food, or any food at all, can lead to disease complications, missing doses of important medication, and needing to be hospitalized.

Learn More About Food Insecurity