WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2017/2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/897427

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Page 139 of 195

not an empty statistic; she knows the names, faces, and often the food preferences of many of the hungry that live or work in the community. "Hunger is not just a challenge for people over there," Mary explains, "It is a challenge for people right here." Who comprises this 10 percent and why are they hungry? "I have fed men and women of all ages and every circumstance," Mary explains. "The common denominator is that they don't have enough money to cover their expenses." Food insecurity can be an ongoing challenge for people who are unemployable as a result of disability, trauma, or mental health issues. Hunger can become a chronic issue for those who are experiencing a structural change in their household — death of a spouse, divorce, and/or respon- sibility for aging parents or a sick child — circumstances that can significantly, and often perma- nently, alter their income and/or expenses. When cash is tight because of a decrease in income — think loss of a job, reduction in hours, or the need to use unpaid sick or personal days — or an increase in expenses — think medical bills Food as Medicine If you've ever skipped a meal or two, you may be familiar with the headaches, shakiness, lethargy, and irritation that develop when your blood sugar dips low and your appetite-related hormones get out of balance. Poor health outcomes are more severe when this happens frequently. For adults, chronic hunger increases the risk of obesity (because of the lack of access to healthier options), hypertension, and diabetes. For children, chronic hunger can manifest as asthma, anemia, and malnutrition. Both children and adults often develop psychological and behavioral health issues, which have downstream effects including poor educational outcomes, decreased labor productivity, increased health care costs, and higher crime rates. It is a matter of time before an individual's hunger can become a costly societal challenge. Recognizing the vital connection between nutrition and health, Boston Medical Center (BMC) opened an on-premise Preventive Food Pantry that enables BMC health providers to write "prescriptions" for supplemental foods that promote physical health, prevent future illness, and facilitate recovery in their patients. On average, the pantry supplies over 50,000 pounds of food per month to more than 1,800 families in the Boston area. That's 7,000 people per month — 40 percent of whom are children. Many of the beneficiaries are living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, or other chronic conditions and are often lower-income families unable to get fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to obtaining healthy food from the pantry, BMC patients also learn to cook nutritious meals at BMC's Demonstration Kitchen. 138 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 7 / 2 0 1 8 good works "treated with dignity"

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