ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Presbyterian Healthcare Services continues to offer free, nutritious meals and snacks to children visiting four of its hospitals as part of its partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Region.
In its first year—from February 2016 to February 2017—the program provided a total of 6,425 meals to children at four participating hospitals in New Mexico.
Presbyterian’s partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Region and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department began in February 2016 when Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis, Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque and Socorro General Hospital became the first hospitals in New Mexico to offer free meals for children. The program expanded to Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital in Albuquerque this fall.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this partnership with USDA and CYFD to provide free meals to New Mexico children,” said Leigh Caswell, Director, Presbyterian Center for Community Health, Presbyterian Healthcare Services. “At Presbyterian, our purpose is to improve the health of the communities we serve. We work with local and national partners to help solve the problem of hunger in our state because we know that children are healthier when they have nutritious food to eat.”
The USDA operates the federally-funded, state-administered Child and Adult Care Food Program during the school year and the Summer Food Service Program during the summer to serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas at no charge. As part of the program, Presbyterian hospitals provide select healthy options for children and then receive reimbursement from the USDA. Meals and snacks must be eaten at the hospitals.
In New Mexico, one in six residents struggle with hunger and the state is tied with Mississippi for the highest childhood hunger rate in the nation, according to Feeding America.
As part of its investment in community health, Presbyterian is deeply engaged in healthy food initiatives across New Mexico. In addition to the meal site program, Presbyterian focuses on additional healthy eating strategies that include support of cooking classes, farmer’s market incentive programs, community gardens, and increasing the availability of locally sourced agricultural products.
About Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Presbyterian Healthcare Services exists to improve the health of patients, members and the communities we serve. Presbyterian is a locally owned, not-for-profit healthcare system of eight hospitals, a statewide health plan and a growing multi-specialty medical group. Founded in New Mexico in 1908, it is the state’s largest private employer with approximately 12,000 employees.