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Food pantry opens at Brody School of Medicine

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Dr. Susan Keen collects and weighs food for the food pantry at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine with students Shazeb Khan and Shannon Osborne.


ECU News Services

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A new medical food pantry at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine aims to improve the health of patients in the region who lack access to adequate amounts of healthy food.

The pantry — a collaboration between Brody faculty and students, Vidant Medical Center and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — will provide emergency food boxes to patients who have been identified as having food insecurity. Organizers hope to help these patients with their recovery by providing nutritious food recommended by their health care teams based on their medical conditions.

The pantry will initially provide food to patients being discharged from the hospital, but the program is expected to expand to include patients visiting ECU Physicians.

“I was seeing that our patients with dietary restrictions due to diabetes or hypertension were struggling to make healthful food choices because they lacked access to adequate amounts of healthy food, and that was leading to less than desirable outcomes,” said Kay Craven, director of nutrition services at ECU Physicians and one of the project’s organizers.

When Craven partnered with professor emeritus Dr. Kathryn Kolasa to educate resident physicians about the importance of nutrition in patient care, it didn’t take long for them to realize that referring patients to local food pantries wasn’t enough.

“A typical food pantry is going to have a lot of food that is less healthy and less healing than what we’re going to do,” said Kolasa. “If you go into the food bank that’s downtown you’re going to get whatever people or companies wanted to donate. They could have stacks of candy bars or potato chips. They don’t think about the fact that some of these people are sick and have different needs.”

Organizers say one of the most important aspects of the new food pantry is its location off Moye Boulevard, between the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center and Vidant Medical Center.

“One of the main things we talked about at the beginning of this project, in terms of the patients, is that many of them are on Medicaid,” third-year medical student Shannon Osborn said. “Medicaid will pay for transportation to medical appointments, but it’s not going to pay for transportation to a grocery store or food pantry. So if we can put a food pantry in an area where there’s a high volume of people who are food insecure with the provided transportation to their medical needs, there’s a higher chance for success.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that one in eight Americans is food insecure.

Throughout the month of March, in celebration of National Nutrition Month, medical students enrolled in Brody’s Service Learning Distinction Track are holding a food drive to benefit the new pantry. Organizers are requesting that donors be mindful of the dietary restrictions patients may be facing and contribute nonperishable and canned foods low in sodium and sugar.

“We were so grateful for the 884 pounds of food donated during our November food drive,” said Dr. Susan Keen, co-director of the service-learning track. “Our goal for March is even bigger.”

Dr. Kori Brewer, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, will be running in the Boston Marathon, which has declared this to be a “Year of Service” to honor those who lost their lives five years ago in the bombing.

“We are excited to support Dr. Brewer’s efforts by collecting 100 pounds of food for every mile she runs,” Keen said. “That means our goal is 2,620 pounds of food by March 31.”

Laupus exhibit shares stories of human emotion

Laupus Library will open the art exhibit “Eye Rain and Heart Cramps” with a 4:30-6:30 p.m. reception on Tuesday in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery on the fourth floor of the library.

On display through June 1, the exhibit showcases a collection of paintings and mixed media artworks by April Holbrook, administrative support specialist for clinical financial services in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.

The exhibit is part of the library’s ongoing Art as Avocation series that showcases and celebrates the artistic talents and self-expression of faculty, staff and students from the Division of Health Sciences.

“Art is my therapy,” Holbrook said. “I feel as if every soul on this earth is here to leave some mark on the world and I feel my purpose was to create things to make others feel like they are not alone.”

“April’s works are truly stunning,” said Beth Ketterman, director of Laupus Library. “I am so grateful that she’s willing to share these pieces with us for the exhibit, not only because they convey a range of emotion and experiences that are relatable, but also because she elevates the mediums in which she chooses to work. She’s got a rare talent and Laupus is proud we are able to exhibit on her behalf.”

Born in Durham as a first-generation American after her family immigrated from Germany in the early 1970s for the pursuit of higher education, Holbrook’s mother attended Duke University and later became a cardiologist, and her father worked as a bank president. While her parents were not fine artists and never understood what they referred to as a “waste of time,” her grandmother loved to draw and fully supported Holbrook’s dream to become an artist.

Holbrook later attended the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor of fine arts degree in social art and a minor in graphic design.

Holbrook’s art is created with a variety of mediums including pencil, sharpie, watercolor and acrylic. Her hope is that visitors of the 12-piece exhibit will find a piece of themselves somewhere in this story of human emotion.

The Friends of Laupus Library supports the Art as Avocation series and reception.

Laupus Library is currently seeking artists for 2018-2019 exhibitions. To learn more, visit www.ecu.edu/laupuslibrary/events/artasavocation or contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at rogerske@ecu.edu or 744-2232.