Joining forces for wellness
The Mobile Food Pantry and Heart Smart for Life  

By Annette Pinder

Mercy Hospital, Food Bank of WNY, and Catholic Charities have joined forces on a new “Mobile” Food Pantry at the Mercy Comprehensive Care Center (MCCC) located at 397 Louisiana Streetin Buffalo’s Old First Ward.

The free service delivers thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to nearly 500 adults and children on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Serving as an offshoot of the nearby Catholic Charities Food Pantry, the Mobile Food Pantry is the first health care-based distribution site for the Food Bank in the region.

“We are pleased to be part of this collaborative effort with the Food Bank and Catholic Charities to help create a healthier community,” said Mercy Hospital President & CEO C.J. Urlaub. “Residents have access to healthier foods, plus, can take advantage of a wide variety of health services and wellness programs offered at the Mercy Comprehensive Care Center.”

“A nutritious diet is critical to maintaining good health and preventing disease,” said Elyse Burgher, Agency and Community Programs Manager for the Food Bank. “Unfortunately, many individuals in our community lack access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through this new partnership, we can help ensure that nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products are getting into the hands and homes of those who need them most.”

In addition to providing staples for healthy meal planning, the Mobile Food Pantry also offers healthy recipe ideas and food tasting, as well as the opportunity to join the MCCC’s free community wellness program Heart Smart for Life(Heart Smart). Participants in Heart Smart receive one-on-one nutritional counseling and education, and healthy cooking classes conducted by a professional nutritionist. The program also offers free health screenings,wellness education, exercise classes, and other resources geared toward improving cardiovascular health.

“This is a great collaboration between Catholic Health, Food Bank of WNY and Catholic Charities that will provide fresh, healthy food for those in need,” said Bill Larsen, Catholic Charities outreach coordinator. “We’re so happy to be able to serve the community in this unique way.”

TheHeart Smart for Life program is a community wellness initiative that launched in January 2017 through support from the Mercy Hospital Foundation and a generous $165,000 grant from the AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation, Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM. Key Bank, and Fidelis Care are also program partners with a goal to positively impact the health of our community.

Food distribution in 2019 will begin on January 23, 2019. For more information about the Mobile Food Pantry or the Heart Smart for Lifeprogram, call the MCCC at 716-923-6152. Also hear more about the food pantry in an interview on Millennium Health Matters radio on Monday evening January 14, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at MIX 1020 AM and Power 96 FM.