Second Harvest North Florida is partnering with Shands Jacksonville to provide nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to expectant mothers.
Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 14, new patients were given a 10-pound bag of nutritious food following their first obstetrics appointment at the Shands Jacksonville OB clinic courtesy of Second Harvest North Florida.
This initiative is the direct result of a 2008 JCCI study on infant mortality in Jacksonville. According to the study, there is an exceedingly high death rate among children under the age of one in Jacksonville. The city’s infant mortality rate is the highest in Florida, exceeding the U.S. average and sadly those in many third-world countries.
“We found that poor nutrition was part of the reason babies were being born prematurely and/or underweight,” Lawrence DuBow, a participant in the study group, said. “Those two factors are the greatest direct cause of infant mortality. In addition, we found there is a critical shortage of full-service grocery stores in the urban core where women can purchase nutritious foods, primarily fresh fruits and vegetables. This partnership between Second Harvest and Shands will undoubtedly result in fewer infant deaths due to poor maternal nutrition,” he said.
“In addition to academic medicine, Shands Jacksonville is well known for its service and commitment to the community. We are happy to be able to partner with Second Harvest to improve the health of our patients and their unborn babies,” said Jim Burkhart, president and administrator, Shands Jacksonville.
The program will initially target new obstetric patients, but the organizations hope to expand it to serve the more than 100 expectant mothers seen daily in the clinic.
“It is our intent to provide every one of these mothers-to-be with nutritious foods at each of their appointments at Shands Jacksonville,” said Thomas Mantz, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida. “This initiative is at the heart of our mission at Second Harvest, which is to solve the issues of hunger and food insecurity in our community.”
A number of local grocers donate fresh food to Second Harvest North Florida, including Winn-Dixie, Target, Food Lion, Sam’s Wholesale, Whole Foods and BJ’s. Winn-Dixie donated a year’s worth of plastic bags for this initiative.
PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Top) Kristen Cosby from Action News interviews a patient who received food for the first time through the new Shands-Second Harvest initiative on Wednesday, Oct. 14. (Bottom) A table holds bags of food that were distributed to pregnant women during their visits to the Shands Jacksonville OB clinic on Wednesday, Oct. 14.