All cancer patients should have access to the healthy food needed to nourish and heal their bodies. That’s why Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Lakeview Pantry teamed up to create a food pantry program for cancer patients struggling with food insecurity.
For low-income oncology patients, food insecurity is a wide-reaching concern nationally and locally, says Angie Davis, director of marketing at Lakeview Pantry. On the North Side of Chicago alone, where Lakeview Pantry is located, approximately one in nine people struggles with food insecurity.
“Our neighbors fighting cancer should not have to worry about whether or not they can put food on the table to nourish themselves for the fight,” says Kellie O’Connell, chief executive officer of Lakeview Pantry. “Our goal is to make emergency food assistance available to everyone in need.”
At Advocate Illinois Masonic, cancer patients experiencing food insecurity receive free bags of non-perishable, healthy groceries. Patients can return monthly while they are still receiving treatment. They also receive a gift card to a local grocery store to purchase fresh produce, dairy and lean meats.
“Nutrition plays a critical role in not only helping patients prevent chronic disease but also staying healthy during and after treatment,” says Maritess Caamic, director of Advocate Illinois Masonic’s cancer center.
Lakeview Pantry is currently in discussions with two other Chicago hospitals to extend the program further, Davis says.
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.