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Hope and healing in every bag

Stories

June 17, 2024

South of Fish Hatchery Road and less than two miles from the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry lies Fresenius Medical Care, a dialysis clinic where Craig receives life-sustaining treatment three times a week.

Craig’s journey with dialysis began several years ago as a result of complications from diabetes. Dialysis is physically taxing, requiring him to spend roughly 12 hours at the clinic each week. Despite the toll it takes on his body, he remains grateful for each day. One of the challenges he faces is maintaining a healthy diet. Dialysis can deplete the body of essential nutrients, making it critical for patients to follow a strict dietary regimen. However, Craig found it difficult to consistently afford and access nutritious foods due to his limited resources and mobility.

This is where you and the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry come in. Every month, pantry staff deliver to the clinic bags filled with food that supports dialysis patients’ low-potassium diet and treatment constraints such as fresh produce, grains and protein-rich foods like canned tuna, peanut butter and chicken. Many patients like Craig appreciate this wonderful resource.

“It introduced me to new food,” Craig said. “It helps keep me in line of what types of food I should be eating and makes it easier to cook. It’s had a positive impact in my life.”

Thanks to you, our Dane County neighbors receive quality food to help them maintain their health and strength during treatments.

Dialysis patients will pick up these bags of food after their treatments.

 


 

Providing reliable food eliminates barriers and alleviates stress

The partnership with Fresenius Medical Care began in 2021 with the goal to provide food and dietary education to patients on dialysis. A survey launched shortly after the program began showed an 88% patient satisfaction rate, with 91% of patients expressing a desire to continue participating in the program. This overwhelming response marked the program as a huge success from the start. With your help, the pantry expanded the program to a second dialysis clinic (also just miles from our pantry) in September 2021 to further extend reach and impact.

Today, both dialysis clinics receive 55-60 10lb bags of food every month. Since the start of the program, our pantry has distributed over 34,000 pounds of food to patients, providing them with much-needed support, nourishment and dietary education.

People on dialysis face numerous barriers to food. According to Lindsay Marks, MS, a renal dietician at Fresenius, many people with failing kidneys are often unable to work due to physical disabilities and health problems. Additionally, the sheer amount of time and energy dialysis treatment takes can make it difficult for people to live a “normal” life. Many of her patients rely on the food bags since they have trouble affording food themselves. It helps them if they’re out of food and gives them back some autonomy to self-manage their health.

“The food bags have been especially helpful in filling gaps at the end of the month when sometimes people run out of food,” Marks said. “Sometimes the food bags are patients’ only options if they have run out of Foodshare money and need something to get through the month. The food from the pantry is also nutritious and better for their health than going to the convenience store next door.”

Craig has personal experience navigating food insecurity. Now in his late seventies he’s fearful of driving and finds himself excessively fatigued after treatment. Since it’s hard for him to get to the grocery store and prepare meals himself, he’s thankful the pantry delivers pre-packed food directly to the clinic he’s at every week.

“I think sometimes there’s a bit of a stigma associated with going to a food pantry,” Marks said. “People feel guilty taking a ‘handout’. Hearing about these food bags at our clinic where it’s easy to take a bag after treatment relieves some of that stress for patients. They also appreciate knowing that the foods are compliant on their extremely difficult diets.”

“I am grateful,” Craig said. “It’s a great program and makes eating well a lot easier for me. I don’t have to rely on convenience food.”

Because of you, Craig and other dialysis patients like him experience less anxiety, improve their health and have hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Craig at home

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