Henry’s Groceries for Health

HFHS researchers, Alex Plum (Population Health), Dr. Christine Joseph (Public Health Sciences), and Dr. Stacy Leatherwood (Pediatrics), in partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank, have been awarded funding by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to try to enhance and expand “Henry’s Groceries”, a pilot program to evaluate food supplementation as a means to address food insecurity in adult patients. Henry’s Groceries will now deliver to children in need.  

Food insecurity (limited or uncertain access to adequate nutritious food with either disrupted or reduced eating) affects an average of 48% of households in Detroit, and 19% of Detroit children are enrolled in WIC (Detroit Health Department, 2017). Children with food insecurity experience illnesses more often, incur physical and cognitive developmental delays, perform more poorly academically and behaviorally in school, and contribute to a less competitive workforce when they grow up.  

The researchers are trying to see if delivering food kits along with recipes and education will decrease trips to the doctor and missing school as well as increase healthy behaviors like eating more fruits and veggies.  In a previous study on adults, the same researchers showed that recipients of Henry’s Groceries had a significant reduction in emergency room visits and hospitalizations.   

Also, part of this program, is to train and equip HFHS pediatric clinical staff, medical assistants, nurses, and advance practice providers to look for food insecurity in patients and connect them with food resources.   

If successful in improving outcomes, this program would be expanded to all HFHS pediatric medical centers and HFHS would share their best practices with other health systems and community-based food aggregators and food banks.  

Henry’s Groceries has received awards from America’s Essential Hospitals and American Medical Group Association for its innovative and novel approach to closing disparities in healthy food access.


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