Free food program helps hospital recovery in Lee County

A free food program is helping sick people recover after hospital stays in Lee County.

Lee Memorial Health recently launched a program called Flavor Harvest @Home to provide food to recently hospitalized patients.

“It was initially developed to help patients with malnutrition get back on their feet once they’re at home,” said Heather Wayco, Director of Clinical Nutrition.

Recent research pointed to malnutrition as a big contributor to patients being re-hospitalized. Lee Health decided to change that.

When unexpected illness lands you in the hospital, it can be hard to recover once you get home.

By delivering free food to those recovering at home, it’s also helping reduce overcrowding in hospitals and healthcare costs to individuals.

After 55 years of making meals for her husband, lunchtime looks a little different around the Sullivan house now that they get free meals through Flavor Harvest.

“It made it so much easier for her. It was a lifesaver,” said George Sullivan who participates in the program.

The program is free and provides patients with 28 days of meals packed with all the nutrients they need.

“I lost 20 pounds when I in the hospital,” Sullivan said.

He spent six days in the hospital recovering from pneumonia which was exasperated by COPD, a lung disease.

“All of the sudden you come back from the hospital and you have no ambition.”

The meals took one huge stressor off of his plate. It’s providing big results for Lee Health System as well.

“We found that the patients that were at risk for malnutrition and received the meals, it cut their readmission rates almost in half,” said Wayco.

Which is why Lee Health has the program running in all four facilities.

To qualify for the Flavor Harvest, you must be in the hospital and meet certain physical qualifications.

If you ever need help getting access to food, here are places that offer everyone food:

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
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