November 6, 2023

IU Health launches a nutrition hub to serve food insecure Methodist hospital patients

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Nutrition Hub at IU Health Methodist Hospital on Nov. 1, 2023. The program will initially serve the hospital's patients but will expand to residents in the 46202 zip code in Indianapolis. - Alex Li/WFYI

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Nutrition Hub at IU Health Methodist Hospital on Nov. 1, 2023. The program will initially serve the hospital's patients but will expand to residents in the 46202 zip code in Indianapolis.

Alex Li/WFYI

A new program at IU Health Methodist Hospital hopes to address nutrition insecurity in downtown Indianapolis. 

The Nutrition Hub will host refrigerated food lockers that are accessible 24 hours a day. Participants can pre-order food using a mobile app and then pick up the food from the locker. They can also work with a community health worker at the hub to be connected to additional nutrition resources and education. 

The program will first enroll IU Health patients who are food insecure before expanding access to residents in the 46202 zip code in the next two years. 

In Indiana, more than 730,000 people face hunger and nearly a third of them are children, according to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks and meal programs. The zip code 46202, in Indianapolis, has a high rate of food insecurity. According to Gleaners Food Bank more than 128,000 Marion County residents are food insecure.

The hospital has partnered with Gleaners to provide the free food. 

“We all want our communities to be healthy,” Mary Dubinin, director of community collaborations at Gleaners, said. “And one way of doing that is definitely making sure there's access, at least, to healthy food.”

Nutrition leads to better heart health and better health overall, said Amanda Mills, executive director of the Indianapolis American Heart Association, which is partnering with IU Health to bring the Nutrition Hub.

“We've come up with a lot of information around food is medicine and how critical of a role nutritious foods play into our health and play into things like blood pressure,” Mills said.

The program is funded through a three-year $1million grant from IU Health’s Community Impact Investment Fund. The Purdue University Center for Health Equity and Innovation is another partner. 

Contact WFYI health reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org.

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