For Tracy Carroll, MSN, RN, and nursing director at UNC Hospitals, caring for patients across the continuum of care is a hallmark of Carolina Care. For someone being discharged from the hospital, that could involve follow-up appointments, support at home, prescription medicines ― or food.
“Food insecurity is a reality for many of the patients and families we care for,” said Carroll. “It is a challenge in and of itself, but imagine how much harder that is when you’re recovering from an illness ― food insecurity is yet another stressor that impacts our patients’ ability to heal.”
The UNC Health FoodWell program was created to eliminate immediate concerns about food for discharging patients. FoodWell distributes bags of healthy food to patients identified as food insecure at UNC Hospitals and outpatient clinics. To date, more than 2,100 patients and families have been served.
Many UNC Health donors have contributed to FoodWell through donor activities and food-related funds. Corporate partner Butterball is the protein source for the program, donating steady supplies of turkey that are delivered to the hospital in family-sized portions.
In 2021 after learning about FoodWell, UNC Health Foundation donor Johnnie Sexton established The Xris Kessler Fund for Children Facing Hunger. The Kessler fund contributes to FoodWell and honors Sexton’s husband, Xris, who experienced food insecurity as a child. Donors like Sexton help sustain and grow FoodWell.
“Sadly, food insecurity will continue to be a challenge for our patients and families,” said Carroll. “However, I am extremely grateful that we will continue to provide essential groceries to those who need it, thanks to the support of the UNC Health Foundation and our generous donors.”