WOONSOCKET – Susan Cassey, 58, lives a modest life, sustained by federal Supplemental Security Income. She is diabetic. Her healthcare team at Thundermist Health Center has impressed on her the importance of protein in her diet.

“It’s expensive when it comes from meat,” Cassey said.

But not when it comes in a box provided free of charge by three healthcare organizations that have launched a pilot program designed to improve well-being – without sacrificing taste.

“It’s a great program because it will help with your health,” said Cassey, who held a succession of factory and other jobs when she was still able to work.

To meet her needs, Cassey regularly receives a box filled with ready-to-eat foods and ingredients for meals she can make herself.

“You get canned fruit, canned vegetables, lentils, rice, pinto beans, oatmeal, low-fat milk, spaghetti sauce, granola” and other foods, she said. The boxes also include hand sanitizer and face masks, much in demand during the pandemic.

Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island and Algorex Health have partnered with Thundermist on the six-month pilot program, formally known as Neighborhood-Thundermist Food Access Program. Some 140 Neighborhood Medicaid members are enrolled. Neighborhood’s $377,000 investment covers the costs of food and delivery, and also the program’s design and analytics.  

“Access to healthy food is integral to improving overall health,” said Thundermist medical director Dr. Sapna Chowdhry. “If a patient goes to bed hungry or lacks access to nutritious food, it is difficult for them to focus on other aspects of health. Our partnership with Neighborhood will reduce barriers patients face in improving their health and wellbeing.”