Howard Young Medical Center and the Howard Young Foundation have a history of working closely with the Lakeland Food Pantry. As a result of the creative and tireless efforts of Sheila Clough, president of Howard Young Health Care, and the Food Pantry Task Force, many valuable services have been offered to the pantry clients over the past year at no cost.
Initially, Sheila worked with the hospital’s management team to encourage their participation on food pantry distribution day. While this continued to be a very active program, she believed a closer and more meaningful collaboration could be undertaken between the staff of the hospital, the community and its resources, and the clients.
Nutritionists are available to discuss healthy food choices while recipes that support healthy eating habits are shared and demonstrated. Proper refrigeration and food preparation classes are also held.
Simple clinical services such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings have been developed along with education on depression and other behavioral health services. Activities are being created that will help promote social interaction, such as a community lunch or breakfast. Future sessions will also include exercise programs, information on fitness, advance health care planning and area resource lists.
By networking with a local optometry office, eye-care screenings and eyeglass assistance are being organized and may be offered in the future.
Ministry Medical Group in Woodruff, with the help of Clinic Director Teri Adams, has initiated a Medication Assistance Program, which will greatly assist pantry clients, particularly the elderly, in medication organization and payment assistance.
In addition, a voucher system was developed with a local taxi cab agency for persons needing a ride. Oftentimes, trying to get these people to their destination is particularly challenging in a rural area with no public transportation system.