New pilot food program helps Central Florida patients with chronic kidney disease

Meals are part of the Medically Tailored Meal program

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is delivering meals to the terminally ill.

ORLANDO, Fla . – Broccoli cauliflower and curry lentil soup were just some of the foods packaged on Thursday at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Those meals are part of the Medically Tailored Meal program aimed to help feed patients with chronic kidney disease at no cost.

“They have three times the health care cost, they are twice as likely to be admitted to a hospital and the hospital stays are generally three times longer,” Dawn Koffarnus said.

Koffarnus is the Chief Health Systems & Financial Officer at Second Harvest.

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She said 20 patients are enrolled in the MTM program which kicked off last month and was funded by a grant from the Davita Giving Foundation.

“This is entirely different from donated food. We purchase healthy nutritious ingredients that go into the production of these meals that are chef-developed recipes and approved by our DM,” Koffarnus explained.

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Chef Robert Pagan is in charge of making sure the meals have the proper ingredients and are ready to go.

“Those guidelines will be certain amount of sodium. We basically don’t use any salt because food naturally has sodium in it. Low phosphorus. Low potassium,” Pagan said.

Each patient receives seven lunches, seven dinners, seven snacks and two salads which are delivered once a week.

Koffarnus said the goal is to eventually expand the program to more patients dealing with other chronic illnesses.

“I think this is as powerful as any kind of medicine, as any kind of medical treatment if not more powerful,” she said.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!