Lakewood Engage is the cornerstone initiative of Lakewood Health System’s community health division and the engine that drives all its food insecurity programs. In 2020, Lakewood Health System connected more than 1,300 children, seniors, low-income individuals and patients with chronic health conditions to one of its seven programs designed to address the challenges and health consequences of hunger and food security.
Since the inception of Lakewood Engage in 2013, it has evolved from simply connecting local produce growers to patients at its hospital-based Staples Area Farmers Market to constructing a comprehensive clinic-based referral program that prescribes local produce to patients through its “Food Farmacy” market.
Through these experiences and years of program development, Lakewood Health System has learned to be nimble and responsive to the changing environments and needs of the community. The work has strengthened its commitment to serve more patients. In 2020, Lakewood Health System invested to sustain its programs and even expand as the food insecurity crisis worsened due to COVID-19. An estimated 5.1% of Lakewood Health System patients were food insecure at least one time over the last two calendar years. Since the start of 2019, Lakewood Health System has conducted nearly 50,000 food insecurity screenings throughout its hospitals and clinics. In 2020, a total of 187 patients were referred to Lakewood Engage and enrolled in one of its programs. As the positivity rates of COVID-19 began to rise, so did the rate of food insecurity, particularly among patients who indicated for the first time that they did not have reliable and enough affordable nutritious food accessible to them.
In early September 2020, Lakewood Health System launched a new clinic-based intervention called Meals at COVID-19+ to address food insecurity for those impacted by COVID-19 diagnosis. The Meals at COVID-19+ program delivers 14 pre-packaged meals to patients and each member in their household. A total of 10,738 meals were delivered to 498 adults and 269 children between September and December alone.