- Food Lion is working with a hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, to pilot a program designed to encourage people to develop healthy eating habits, the grocery chain announced Thursday.
- Over the course of the two-year collaboration, Food Lion and Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center will distribute almost 3,000 boxes of nutritious food to eligible patients when they are discharged from the hospital.
- The ‘food pharmacy’ program reflects growing interest among food retailers in playing a role in community-based initiatives to improve public health through nutrition.
Food Lion is using the joint effort with Novant Health to draw people’s attention to the connection between grocery choices and their well-being.
Each of the packages of food the grocer is providing through the project will contain an assortment of shelf-stable goods such as milk, pasta with sauce, oatmeal, black beans, tuna and cans of sodium-free vegetables. In addition, the packages will include information about nutritious foods Food Lion sells and the nutrition labeling program used by the chain and other Ahold Delhaize-owned banners, Guiding Stars, according to the announcement.
Dietitians at New Hanover Regional Medical Center will determine people’s eligibility to receive the food pharmacy boxes based on whether they face food insecurity, defined by the USDA as a “limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
“This partnership with Novant Health is an opportunity to help our neighbors eat healthier by using food as medicine,” Matt Yates, vice president of brand strategy for Food Lion, said in a statement. “Through the food pharmacy program, we are providing our neighbors with nutritious food that helps them manage chronic illnesses and helps them thrive, setting them up for success.”
Food Lion said it has also donated the equivalent of 1,800 meals consisting of the same items included in the food pharmacy boxes to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Wilmington branch.
The food pharmacy program Food Lion has launched in conjunction with New Hanover Regional Medical Center comes as the federal government steps up its efforts to end hunger and diet-related health problems in the United States. Last September, the White House hosted a conference to draw attention to the connection between what people eat and their health. The Biden Administration also published a national strategy that calls on the private sector to help achieve that mission.
Ahead of the conference, the Food Industry Association (FMI) laid out a set of recommendations designed to spur federal support for programs that could make it easier for people to access and afford nutritious foods.