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Published on March 15, 2022

Supporting Access to Healthy & Nutritious Food

Supporting Access to Healthy & Nutritious Food | Cone Health FoundationMost of us know that when you are hungry nothing else matters. However, when you are pregnant it is even more important to have access to healthy, nutritious food. That’s why CHF was so pleased to be able to support the Dr. Miguel and Denese Brito Nutrition & Education Center at Cone Health MedCenter for Women. The program is designed to improve access to healthy and nutritious food for patients and their families experiencing food insecurity, hardship, or chronic disease. 

The new 30,000-square-foot building was designed to include a small grocery store for the building’s patients, but more like a traditional food pantry. That changed with the involvement of Cone veteran Jamilla Pinder and donors, Denese Brito and her husband Dr. Miguel Brito, who moved to Greensboro from South Florida to be close to family.

Supporting Access to Healthy & Nutritious Food | Cone Health Foundation“Let’s not do a pantry,” Pinder recalls saying. “Let’s really be thoughtful about how we create this space, that really restores dignity and affirms people.” We agree, Jamilla! In a much broader sense, it’s a market. “You go in just like a grocery store and shop,” says Pinder. Except that the food is free, which is surprising to patients. “Are you sure I don’t have to pay anything?” they ask, according to Pinder. “No, you’re good.”

Many women who will use the MedCenter live in low-income communities  nearby. The median household income in the MedCenter’s census tract is 38% lower than Guilford County’s. Many of the neighborhoods are in food deserts, areas without supermarkets and fresh food. High poverty and a scarcity of healthy food outlets mean that the folks who are coming to the MedCenter are more likely to have problems getting enough to eat and enough of the right foods. This becomes a serious health issue before and after childbirth, for mother and child.  

Supporting Access to Healthy & Nutritious Food | Cone Health FoundationResearch is beginning to show how limited or uncertain access to nutritious food can be harmful during and after pregnancy for both Mom and baby. Food insecurity may increase the release of stress hormones, which has been linked to pre-term birth as well as unhealthy changes in Mom’s pregnancy weight are linked to an increased risk for post-partum depression and blood pressure concerns. Alternatively, food security is linked to economic growth and job creation, poverty reduction, and improved health — all outcomes that CHF knows are important to the residents of Greensboro.

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