ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In just over two years, Presbyterian Healthcare Services has provided more than 20,000 healthy meals to children through its free meal program at five hospitals across New Mexico.
The program provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to children visiting hospitals as part of Presbyterian's partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA) Southwest Region and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD).
Presbyterian's partnership with the USDA and CYFD began in February 2016 when Plains Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Clovis, Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque and Socorro General Hospital became the first hospitals in New Mexico to offer free meals for kids. The program has since expanded to Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital in Albuquerque and Lincoln County Medical Center in Ruidoso.
"As we reach this amazing achievement of 20,000 meals served to New Mexico kids, I want to thank our cafeteria staff for their dedication to this program," said Leigh Caswell, director, The Presbyterian Center for Community Health, Presbyterian Healthcare Services. "Thanks to their enthusiasm and the healthy, delicious food they prepare, families know that their children have a place to access free, nutritious meals when they need them. Thanks to them, families know that children are welcome at our tables."
PRMC has been one of the most popular meal sites – serving 8,994 meals since the program started.
The USDA operates the federally-funded, state-administered Child and Adult Care Food Program during the school year and the Summer Food Service Program in the summer to serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas for free. Presbyterian hospitals provide select healthy options for kids 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.
Improving access to healthy food is a community health priority at Presbyterian. In addition to the free meal program, Presbyterian recently launched a pilot Food Pharmacy on the campus of Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital that provides free food for select patients in need. Presbyterian also offers the Healthy Here Mobile Market and the Fresh RX program, which provides patients with "prescriptions" for fresh produce, as well as cooking classes, farmer's market incentive programs, community gardens and more. Please see
www.phs.org and search for "community health program highlights" for information.
Lincoln County Medical Center
- Daily: meal 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
- Daily: meal and snack 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital
- Monday-Friday: meal 11 a.m .- 1:30 p.m., snack 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Socorro General Hospital
- Monday-Friday: meal 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., snack 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: meal 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Plains Regional Medical Center
- Daily: meal 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
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 more than 11,000 employees.