More than 40% of the patients of Michigan Medicine’s Ypsilanti Health Center (YHC) face food insecurity. That led to the opening of Maggie’s Marketplace in 2017. The food pantry (named for the health center’s former medical director, Maggie A. Riley, M.D.) focuses on healthy foods and offers a variety of perishable and non-perishable items at no cost to patients.
“The Marketplace sends a message to our patients that we care about them. I think they were shocked that we cared about whether they were eating enough, and eating enough healthy foods,” says YHC Clinic Manager Ladele Cochran (above).
“We are continually thinking about ways to innovate to make the health center meet the needs of our patient population,” says YHC Medical Director Steve Warnick Jr. (M.D. 2007), assistant professor of family medicine and of psychiatry, pictured left. The YHC houses family medicine and pediatrics clinics, as well as visiting specialists in obstetrics, psychiatry, and more. In addition to the pantry, it offers a car seat program, a baby safety gate program, child safety kits, smoke detector and gun lock giveaways, and hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies each year.
The response from patients at the YHC has been overwhelming. Many face mobility and transportation issues, so having a pantry at their primary care medical home is a welcome convenience. One patient, a father of four children, told the staff at the health center that Maggie’s Marketplace “is saving my life.”
In its first two years, Maggie’s Marketplace served more than 7,600 people and provided over 62,000 pounds of food.
Kroger awarded a $10,000 grant in support of Maggie’s Marketplace in May, which will ensure the shelves remain stocked with healthy food and additional in-demand items, such as diapers, feminine hygiene products, and light bulbs. The grant is part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative, an effort that includes the goal of ending hunger and achieving zero food waste by 2025. Funding also comes from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Annual Fund, the Friends Gift Shop, Molina Healthcare, and generous donations from faculty, staff, and the community.