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Central Pa. Food Bank offers critical support for food insecurity | Health Smart

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank's "Health Innovations Program" focuses on food as medicine.

YORK, Pa. — "In Central Pennsylvania we have about 330,000 people facing food insecurity, " said Jennifer Sands, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank's Communications Manager. 

"Right now we are serving about 152,000 people each and every month in 27 counties. Families, individuals, children, veterans, seniors, you're neighbors, people you might not know are facing some insecurity but are having trouble making those choices between food and other critical expenses," she said. 

Andy Dessel also works for the Food Bank.  He says people who are food insecure have a much higher risk for a variety of health issues, including diabetes and hypertension.  It's one of the reasons the Food Bank started their Health Innovations program, which Dessel manages.

The "Health Innovations Program" connects its emergency feeding network and consumers served by these programs, with members of the medical community.  The goal is to promote health, wellness, and nutrition education.

 "It comes in a variety of different forms, from working with health care providers to offering food insecurity screenings, to enhanced referrals for patients to medically tailored boxes for patients and finally even an onset pantry at a hospital to provide patients both with education and with health food items," Dessel said.    

One thing is for sure, they couldn't do their work for the community without their volunteers.

"They are our lifeblood- they're packing thousands of boxes each and every day," said Sands.  Ariel Lester is one of them, who says she feels it's her duty to give back.  "When people ask me why I volunteer, I always ask the question, why not?"

James Pierce also volunteers with his wife, after serving 42 years in the u-s army.  "Now that I'm retired, my wife and I both feel like we want to continue to give to the community.  We both understand that there are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate as us and so we want to be able to provide and help in some way that we can," Pierce said.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank works with more than 13-hundred local agencies and programs to serve the community. 

If you're interested in finding out more about the Health Innovations Program, click here.  

If you would like to find out how to get involved with volunteering, click here.

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