Through food programs, the Haven meets people where they are
Not all the Haven’s food programs happen on the Hartford Avenue campus in White River Junction. Over the years, relationships and partnerships have brought food to people in the community through regular initiatives like the backpack program at the Wilder School that send home shelf-stable groceries to families in need as well as pop-up events like the Hanover Church of Christ food drive.
It also includes supporting Moms in Recovery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital’s perinatal addiction treatment program. Pregnant and postpartum mothers in recovery attend an intensive opioid replacement program, which includes counseling, medication, and group therapy. Since 2016, the Haven has hosted an onsite food pantry to give mothers and children reliable nutrition to complement the program’s comprehensive treatment.
In 2017, the program expanded to include grab-and-go snacks and weekly prepared takeaway meals. Haven volunteers like Lynn Sheldon package healthy, nutritious snacks like hummus and carrot sticks as well as complete meals like beef stew with lots of vegetables and egg noodles or hearty vegetable lasagna. “Women in the program are working hard to overcome addiction,” says Lynn. “Good food is comforting, providing both good nutrition and a sense of well-being. Because these moms are often in stressful situations, the food we provide hopefully relieves at least some of that stress.”
Teri LaRock, MSW, LICSW, clinical director for Moms in Recovery, assures that the food does just that—for moms and staff alike. “Many mothers in our program don’t drive and depend on Medicaid transportation to access care,” Teri explains. “They are unable to receive Medicaid transportation to a food pantry, so having it here onsite has been wonderful. When mothers come to our clinic, in addition to accessing their addiction treatment services, they can take care of their nutritional needs. Women can go home with fresh produce, meats, dairy products, cereal, canned goods, formula, and recipes. Just the other week, our moms were going out the door with a new chili recipe as well as all the ingredients required to make it. In these recent difficult months when things have been so stressful for many, it has been heartwarming and healing for our staff to watch our families have their essential nutritional needs cared for. We are so very fortunate to be in partnership with the Upper Valley Haven.”