Nourishing the Community

February 15, 2021

A farmers market“Health starts in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, and at our jobs.” That’s a fundamental belief at Rush, shared recently on the 340B Insight podcast by Rukiya Curvey Johnson, director of community health and engagement at Rush and executive director of the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH). When people don’t have access to basic needs like safe places to live, quality education, living-wage jobs and healthy food to eat, it’s difficult for them to achieve and maintain good health.

Curvey Johnson and Julia Bassett, Rush manager of health and community benefit, were invited onto the podcast to share information about Rush’s national leadership in working to dismantle those barriers, eliminate health disparities and make communities healthier.

Rush’s innovative work to support people with food insecurity was highlighted on the show. “We noticed that lots of our patients on the inpatient floors were hoarding food in their bags, drawers, and in their closets,” explained Bassett, so Rush began screening patients for food insecurity and connecting them with community resources for healthy food.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it became clear that food insecurity was increasing, “and we needed to act fast,” Bassett said. In less than a week, CHEE deployed volunteers to call patients and deliver free boxes of nutritious food to those who said they needed it. Between March 25 and June 25 of 2020, the team delivered 1,500 food boxes. Today, deliveries are ongoing, supplemented by pop-up sites where community members in need can pick up food boxes.

Listen to the podcast here.