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Published on October 26, 2021

Food market opens at Cone Health MedCenter for Women

Physicians & Advanced Practice Providers prescribe nutritious foods to patients in need.

Greensboro – The old saying, “you are what you eat” takes on a new meaning at Cone Health. A new program at Cone Health MedCenter for Women provides healthy food, shows women how to make better food choices and connects them with community food resources. The Dr. Miguel and Denese Brito Nutrition & Education Center at MedCenter for Women is designed to improve access to healthy and nutritious food for patients and their families experiencing food insecurity, hardship, or chronic disease. 

“We cannot address health if people do not have their basic needs met,” shares Cone Health Assistant Director for Healthy Communities Jamilla Pinder. “Food insecurity and hardship are symptoms of deeper issues – underemployment or lack of employment, limited access to food and financial management, to name a few.”

As part of The Brito Food Program, referred patients can visit the center to receive medically tailored food bags, a customized shopping experience and resources such as: 

  • Nutrition and wellness education
  • Wellness coaching with a registered dietitian
  • Financial health classes (literacy and budgeting)
  • Resource counseling – connections to short- and long-term nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

These multi-faceted food programs are not only aimed at making sure patients in need have the foods to support a healthy lifestyle, but also the education and resources to maintain it. 

“It is disheartening to hear that anyone is without access to nutritious food,” says donor Denese Brito. “Our goal is to impact change for those experiencing food insecurities and we are proud to have created a legacy of support through The Brito Food Program, ensuring patients in need not only get nutritious foods, but have an opportunity to learn how to sustain a healthy lifestyle.”

The center’s shelves were stocked with pantry staples in preparation for opening day by community “hunger-fighting” veteran, BackPack Beginnings. The organization has been fighting hunger for over a decade. 

“We have seen how access to food can make a dramatic impact on the lives of children and families in our community. Our partnership with Cone Health started a year and a half ago by providing food to food-insecure patients at The Tim and Carolynn Rice Center for Child and Adolescent Health. We are excited to expand that partnership to the MedCenter for Women through a grant from Food Lion Feeds,” says Parker White, executive director of BackPack Beginnings. “This expanded partnership will allow us to feed the youngest children we have ever impacted, those in utero, by nourishing pregnant mothers, fetuses and decreasing the risk of adverse birth outcomes.”  

“We are grateful for our many food partners and for the philanthropic support provided by Dr. Miguel and Denese Brito,” says Pinder.  “Together, we are improving access to nutrient-rich food that can prevent diet-related illnesses and are creating the conditions for patients to eat well every day. This isn’t going away, neither is our commitment to address the many social determinants of health in our community.”

The Dr. Miguel and Denese Brito Nutrition & Education Center at Cone Health MedCenter for Women is just the beginning.  Plans to expand the Brito Food Program beyond referrals from providers at MedCenter for Women are already being discussed.