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McGovern and Project Bread Launch Hospital Hunger Initiative
Date:11/9/2009

Campaign Backed by USDA Secretary Vilsack, Governor Patrick, and Lieutenant Governor Murray

BOSTON, Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a groundbreaking move for antihunger work, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-Worcester) called for all of the state's hospitals to take an active role in helping hungry patients in their care.

"With 554,000 people in Massachusetts now food insecure," said McGovern at today's press conference at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, "we have a problem that spurs us to seek nontraditional partners capable of relieving hunger -- and chief among these are hospitals."

Lending their support to today's event were USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, Governor Deval L. Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, and Project Bread's Ellen Parker, creating a united front in support of McGovern's hospital campaign.

Said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, "President Obama and I are committed to improving the nutrition and health of all Americans, but particularly children, which is why we are looking forward to working with Congress to improve the health and nutrition of America's families through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. The collaborative effort we are celebrating at today's event, and others like it, will play a key role in eliminating the barriers that keep families from participating in nutrition programs and reduce food insecurity in our communities."

To a packed room of antihunger activists, hospital providers, and media, McGovern unveiled a new handbook, written and produced by Project Bread in partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care, that takes a practical, hands-on approach to put his idea into action. The book, which is being distributed through the Massachusetts Hospital Association, called "Hunger in the Community: Ways Hospitals Can Help," provides hospital workers with all the information they need to get a program started. It includes a list of the kinds of food programs that exist within the state, suggests a wide variety of ways a hospital can help, and provides a collection of real stories, taken from hospitals across Massachusetts, that demonstrate what is already being done by hospitals to solve hunger.

"By collaborating with hospitals across the Commonwealth, we can create a strong statewide network of support for those struggling to put food on the table," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I commend Congressman McGovern for his tireless and effective work to end hunger. With this initiative, we can and we will connect more people with the resources they need to stay healthy."

Each year, Massachusetts hospitals help thousands of patients apply for Mass Health, the Health Safety Net, and other public insurance programs through the state's Virtual Gateway, the state's one-stop Internet portal access that offers a common online application for nutrition benefits programs.

Said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, "By answering a few additional questions, hospital staff can use the same intake form to help patients apply for SNAP benefits [formerly known as food stamps] as well as begin the process of applying for other federal nutrition programs that support individuals and families in need across our Commonwealth. We thank Congressman McGovern for his continued leadership in antihunger programs and his dedication to develop a more efficient and effective delivery of services to those in need."

"Health care workers are on the front lines for identifying a variety of health care issues affecting patients," said John G. O'Brien, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. "Food insecurity is a medical issue, and this book provides the resources to help hospitals build programs appropriate to their communities' needs. At UMass Memorial, we have incorporated screening for food insecurity into our health insurance assistance program. As a result, we've helped over 1,500 families apply for the SNAP program this year."

This book came out of a concept, shared by Congressmen McGovern and Project Bread, that hunger is a public health issue.

"Today's launch," said Ellen Parker "is an alignment of stars, demonstrating we have the political will to make a difference in the lives of those struggling for the most basic necessity -- food. Hospitals bring a new vitality and force to our work to end hunger."

The book is also available online through www.projectbread.org/hospitals and through the Massachusetts Hospital Association at http://www.mhalink.org.

About Project Bread

As the state's leading antihunger organization, Project Bread is dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts. Through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, Project Bread provides millions of dollars each year in privately donated funds to over 400 emergency food programs in 135 communities statewide. Project Bread also advocates systemic solutions that prevent hunger in children and that provide food to families in natural, everyday settings. The organization has invested millions in grants to community organizations that feed children where they live, learn, and play. For more information on how hospitals can help, visit www.projectbread.org/hospitals.

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Ellen Parker

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SOURCE Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger


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SOURCE Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger
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