For Immediate Release: January 10, 2017

AtlantiCare, Community FoodBank
of New Jersey, Southern Branch to cut ribbon
on new food pantry

Who:       AtlantiCare and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch

What:      To cut ribbon on new food pantry

When:     Wednesday, January 11, 2017; 2 p.m.

Where:    William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex,
               1401 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Details:   AtlantiCare and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch, will hold a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of a year-round food pantry – Pantry at the Plex – at the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex in Atlantic City. AtlantiCare officials will share brief remarks. Chef Brianna Manning, of Kitchen 19 Creative Culinary Center in Hammonton, NJ, and a member of AtlantiCare’s Growing Green Chefs Council, will lead the a healthy cooking demonstration using items from the pantry to prepare bean and cabbage soup following the ribbon cutting.

The pantry, which had a soft opening December 14, serves low-income patients receiving healthcare services at the HealthPlex Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A member of the AtlantiCare care team, which can include a physician or other provider, nurse, social worker, diabetes educator, and/or other specialists, assesses the patient at the time of his or her medical or social service visit for food insecurity and need for assistance through the pantry.

“Our healthcare providers will write a prescription for healthy food for individuals,” explained Sandy Festa, MSW, administrative director, AtlantiCare HealthPlex. “The prescription will serve as a voucher for patients to receive a three- to four-day supply of healthy food items.” Festa added the once-monthly supply of healthy food is intended to be enough to feed up to a family of four for three to four days. “Through our on-site pharmacy, we help patients get their medications timely. Now patients will be able to pick up food and their medications – if needed - at the same time.”

“Nutrition plays a key role in a person’s overall wellness,” said Festa, who added more than 9,000 individual patients are currently receiving care at the HealthPlex. “Many of our patients have multiple, chronic health issues. Our providers stress the importance of eating nutritious food, especially when it comes to preventing or managing diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other issues. But patients don’t always have the ability to get healthy food.”

The healthy food prescription will be good for the day of the patient’s visit only, unless the care team makes other arrangements. “Just as we work hard to make sure patients get and take their medications timely, we want to help them to access nutritional food timely,” explained Festa. “A member of the care team will confidentially walk the patient to the pantry to retrieve the food. We located in the pantry in a private area of the HealthPlex to maintain patient privacy.”

AtlantiCare Growing Green, a school and community garden program aimed at improving access to healthy foods, oversees pantry operations and reporting requirements. AtlantiCare staff, volunteers, and interns help the pantry receive deliveries, bag food items, and provide other assistance.

“While patients access the pantry we will also provide nutrition education resources and other health and wellness information,” said Laura Engelmann, MHA, AtlantiCare Community Health and Wellness manager, who leads AtlantiCare’s Growing Green initiative. “We selected pantry items based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines for healthy eating.”

“AtlantiCare and the FoodBank partnered to provide a mobile pantry once a month last summer for our HealthPlex patients,” explained Samantha Kiley, MBA, MPH, executive director, AtlantiCare Foundation. “Nutrition-related illnesses and food insecurity are year-round issues, so we are now collaborating to help meet this need on a real-time basis.” Kiley noted organizations, businesses and individuals can contribute to AtlantiCare’s Pantry at the Plex by making a donation to the AtlantiCare Foundation.

“We are absolutely thrilled to expand our partnership with AtlantiCare and the HealthPlex in this way. What began just a few months ago as a new Mobile Pantry stop to provide food for HealthPlex patients has evolved to something of an ideal scenario wherein the food they need is right on site and can be prescribed as part of their care,” said Richard Uniacke, vice president, Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch.

AtlantiCare’s team works with patients to link them with additional nutrition and clinical support services in the community.

For more information about AtlantiCare’s Pantry at the Plex, visit www.atlanticare.org, call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000. For more information about making a donation to the AtlantiCare Foundation, visit the Foundation’s web page or call 888-569-1000.

About the AtlantiCare Foundation
The AtlantiCare Foundation exists to improve the health and well-being of the community through a comprehensive development program to support safe, equitable, quality health care; and to promote healthy behaviors. The Foundation is committed to providing financial resources to help fund health status improvement, which includes supporting the programs and capital expansion projects at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and its affiliates. The Foundation accomplishes its work through the formation of trusting relationships with key stakeholders and community partners that share its vision of building healthy communities.

About AtlantiCare's Growing Green Initiative
AtlantiCare's Growing Green initiative is a school and community garden program aimed at improving access to healthy foods. Since 2009, the initiative’s garden construction and sustainability grants have supported 56 school gardens and 21 community gardens. In addition to these funds, Growing Green offers complementary educational programming led by health educators, dieticians, garden experts, and academic scholars.

The AtlantiCare Growing Green Chef Council is a distinguished group of culinary experts working in the greater Atlantic City area. The Council is committed to increasing access to healthy food for community members, and to providing them with the food preparation skills necessary to lead healthier lives. The Growing Green Chef Council uses its passion, expertise, and circles of influence to support the growth and sustainability of AtlantiCare's Growing Green initiative.

Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446, jennifer.tornetta@atlanticare.org
Heather Costabile, (O) 609-653-0400 x112, heather.costabile@atlanticare.org
Richard Uniacke, (O) 609-383-8843 Ext.109, runiacke@cfbnj.org


AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,500 employees and more than 900 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.

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