Food is Care: Increasing access to healthy food

Food is Care

The Food is Care program helps patients like Sharon Tatum get the nutrition they need to manage complex health conditions by providing free, custom-planned food boxes delivered to their homes by St. Peter’s team members like population health nurse Haylie Wisemiller, RN. (Photo by Thom Bridge, Independent Record)

February 28, 2022

An important kind of care goes into filling the boxes of food that Helena resident Sharon Tatum receives every other week.

Sharon manages several health conditions, including celiac disease, diabetes and heart disease. The new Food is Care pilot program run in partnership by St. Peter’s and Helena Food Share helps people like Sharon with challenging, diet-sensitive health conditions get the nutrition they need from free food boxes filled with specific items to help manage or improve their health condition.

St. Peter’s care team members and other local medical clinics refer patients that face food insecurity and who have complex medical conditions to the free program. Every other week, Helena Food Share collaborates with caregivers at St. Peter’s to prepare custom food boxes. Then, St. Peter’s Population Health teams deliver the food to participants. Ten community members have participated in the trial program so far.

St. Peter’s Clinical Care Manager Catie Cloninger, RN works closely with Sharon to coordinate her treatment plans and her diet. Sharon’s food boxes often include gluten-free and low sodium items.

“There are a lot of times that I wouldn’t have food at all if they didn’t come to deliver it to me,” Sharon said. “It is a great service.”

Food is Care is the latest program in the growing partnership between St. Peter’s and Helena Food Share, which began partnering in 2019 to expand the Food Share’s Healthy Food Initiative.