BMC’s Rooftop Garden Fills Prescription for Nutritional Food

When an overwhelming number of patients told their Boston Medical Center physicians that they were having trouble affording nutritional food for their families, BMC opened the doors to the Preventative Food Pantry in 2001.

Today the pantry supplies over 50,000 pounds of food per month to more than 1,800 families in the Boston area community. Donated by a number of different organizations, the Greater Boston Food Bank provides the majority of the food with 12,000 pounds of food each week, while a garden on the hospital’s rooftop, run by the Boston Natural Area Network, supplies the Food Pantry with fresh produce.

To access the service, BMC patients must obtain a referral through a screening process performed by their BMC primary care physician which includes an individual’s special nutritional needs and the number of people in their household. Every time a patient visits the food pantry, a note is made in their medical record. “This is a way for providers to see when a patient has visited or not,” said Latchman Hiralall, food pantry manager. “It’s not just about giving out food; the pantry is a part of their medical care here at BMC.”

BMC’s Demonstration Kitchen accompanies the Food Pantry and educates patients about how to cook nutritional meals at home. Tracey Burg, a registered dietician and nurse, provides tips on how to cook healthy recipes and runs classes for people with diabetic, cardiac and hypertension issues, as well as pregnant women and those fi ghting obesity.

To learn more about the Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen, visit

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