Huntington Hospital offering nutritional care to disadvantaged patients

Huntington Hospital is promoting health and healing by giving some patients checking out discharge papers along with a bag of nutritious food.

"We’re giving them the medical care they need," said Kathy Giffuni with Huntington Hospital. "We have to give them the nutritional care as well."

The program, dubbed "Food as Health," identifies admitted patients who are struggling with food insecurity.

Many food-insecure residents of Long Island are ineligible for nutrition assistance programs due to factors like income. The food is given to patients as close to discharge to make sure it’s fresh and can last as long as possible.

"They get about a week’s worth," Giffuni said. "They can share with their families as well and will get recipes they can use with the food we give them."

As many as 300,000 people on Long Island are food insecure according to Island Harvest Food Bank.

"If you have a couple of days or a week that you’re in the hospital, the food you have in your refrigerator may not be good anymore. You also haven’t had the opportunity to shop, and may not be able to go shopping," said Randi Shubin Dresner with Island Harvest Food Bank.

Each week about a dozen patients identified as food insecure are sent home with a bag of food. Each one is tailored based on a person’s specific needs.