Over the past five years, the Food Bank and its partners in Food Assistance Navigation have connected thousands of people facing food insecurity in accessing food assistance and other wrap-around services. Our services are rooted in established partnerships with the health care community, other social service agencies, and those seeking assistance.
Food Assistance Navigation offers several pathways for clients, the most common being referrals from health centers and doctors offices. There patients are screened for food insecurity, usually as part of a larger Social Determinants of Health Screening. Patients that screen positive for food insecurity and are interested in our services are referred to one of our Food Assistance Navigators. Navigators are then able to have in-depth conversations with these patients to best connect them with services that can address both food insecurity and its underlying causes such as affordable housing, childcare, transportation, education and job training.
Although most of our referrals come from health care, social agencies and individuals seeking help can access our Food Assistance Navigation services by searching “Food Assistance Navigation” on the 413 Cares website. We are proud to work with the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts to make our services (and those of many other social service providers in the area) available to the public.
Partnerships with Health New England, Baystate Health, Mass General Brigham, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have enabled us to assist more patients living with food insecurity in new ways by providing them with food vouchers and/or nutritious meals through our Western Mass Food Partnership (WestMass ElderCare, Highland Valley Elder Services, LifePath, and Greater Springfield Senior Services).