Neighborhood Health, Thundermist partner for food access program in Woonsocket

PROVIDENCE – Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Thundermist Health Center and Boston-based data science company Algorex Health are partnering on a food access pilot program for about 140 Woonsocket residents.

The six-month Neighborhood-Thundermist Food Access Program serves Neighborhood Health members who are on Medicaid and receive medical care from Thundermist’s Woonsocket location.

By the time the program wraps up in June, organizers hope to be able to determine whether receiving supplemental groceries up to four times per month had a positive impact on recipients’ health and quality of life.

Neighborhood Health initiated the program by collaborating with Algorex to identify members whose income, access to transportation and proximity to grocery stores made it difficult to access healthy food.

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The insurer brought Thundermist, which has deep roots in Woonsocket, on board to help implement the new program.

“We have terrific partners in Thundermist and Algorex Health, and our combined efforts will help address challenges that are often the most significant barriers to food access – economic stability, access to transportation and availability of healthy foods,” said Peter Marino, Neighborhood Health’s CEO and president.

Thundermist’s Community Health Team worked closely with eligible patients to choose what types of food best met their needs, and are in touch with participants monthly.

“If a patient goes to bed hungry or lacks access to nutritious food, it is difficult for them to focus on other aspects of health,” said Dr. Sapna Chowdry, Thundermist’s medical director. “Our partnership with Neighborhood will reduce barriers patients face in improving their health and well-being.”

Neighborhood Health says it plans to evaluate results once the pilot ends, and consider possible expansion.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.