Food or Medicine?

Food or Medicine: A Community Reality

We are grateful to be able to share a brief update to this article with some positive feedback and good news, which you’ll find at the bottom of this page.

We recently shared that the food pantry has provided more than double the meals from a year ago - a total of 18,368 meals in July. In addition, nearly 10,000 additional meals were served through the Community Kitchen and Monthly Food Distribution. Every meal helps people lead healthier lives and move forward on paths to overcome their challenges.

These meals help guests like Laura*, whose medicine costs over $200 a month. She’s had to choose between having enough food to eat, or buying the medicine essential to managing her ongoing health needs - a lose/lose choice. She learned about food and hunger resources available in our food pantry through a referral from Ottawa County’s Pathways to Better Health program, and was able to take advantage of the fresh produce and selection of items balanced across food groups. Having enough healthy food to eat supports her overall well-being and is part of her plan of care, in support of positive health outcomes. Having both food and medicine is a relief.

Laura’s reality is not unique. Food pantry guests often cite their medical needs as causes of food and financial insecurity. We firmly believe no one should have to choose between medical care and having enough to eat, especially when recognizing that the two are so closely linked. 

Laura’s reality is our reality, and the reality of our community. While seeking systems-wide forward movement for our most vulnerable neighbors, our plan of action in the present is to meet the needs we serve best: hunger, financial mobility, connection, and community. We’re strengthening collaborations with local resource providers, and constantly driving excellence to enhance the dignity and respect we show our guests. Expanding our hours and days served, expanding the number of visits that guests have each year, and doing everything a little bit better every day - all mean that we’re earning the trust of our neighbors with every meal provided.

UPDATE: We recently heard back from Laura, who connected with CAH’s Food Security Supervisor, Melissa Roessing:

“Laura just called me all excited to tell me that the Medicaid we'd applied for together for her just came through! She said, "You have no idea what this means to me. It's $2 copays for visits! I can afford to see my doctors again & get my medication!" She was just thrilled. Such a thoughtful action to notify us about that.”


*Please note that certain details, including names, have been altered and/or omitted to respect the privacy of our guests.