Berwyn’s MacNeal Hospital launches food surplus project

MacNeal Hospital, located in Berwyn, Illinois and part of Loyola Medicine, has launched the Surplus Project to package excess hospital and cafeteria food for delivery to nearby shelters and transitional housing.

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, staff volunteers pack individual meals and desserts – labeled with nutrition information, including allergens – along with beverages, fruit, vegetables and other available food. The group packs approximately 75 meals each day, or 150 meals a week, adhering to strict state and local food safety guidelines. (View a video on the Surplus Project).

“Despite careful planning, hospitals typically have extra food that has been thawed, cooked and/or is ready to eat, but not needed,” said Jennifer Grenier, associate chief nursing officer at MacNeal Hospital, who oversees the program. “Our goal is to improve the nutritional health of the community. Through The Surplus Project, we are able share excess food and beverages that would otherwise go to waste with nearby food insecure families.”

Once the food is packed, MacNeal volunteers deliver meals to Housing Forward, a Maywood social service organization providing shelter and supportive housing in the western suburbs, and Housing Forward’s Sojourner House in Oak Park. Sojourner House is Loyola Medicine’s medical respite center offering housing to homeless individuals in need of healing and recuperation following hospital discharge.

“We know that hunger exacerbates a broad-range of health issues,” said Charles Bareis, MD, chief medical officer, MacNeal Hospital. “The Surplus Project allows us to provide additional support to Housing Forward and Sojourner House and the individuals and families they serve. I commend Jennifer Grenier for bringing this impactful program to MacNeal Hospital.”

Grenier, along with Nicole Wynn, manager of nursing excellence and Magnet© Program director at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) in Maywood, are working to bring the Surplus Project to LUMC. Grenier and Fabiola Zavala, director, community health and well-being, MacNeal Hospital and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, are overseeing the program at MacNeal and Gottlieb.

Grenier and Wynn created the Surplus Project when they worked together at another local hospital. Since its creation in 2015, the program has launched at more than 17 hospitals throughout the U.S., including Riveredge Hospital and Penn Medicine.

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