For those living with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, day treatment programs can mean the difference between the debilitation caused by these illnesses and a stable life. Despite that, treatment also poses significant challenges. Day treatment programs often require an individual to take a leave from their jobs, which can place financial strain on them and their families. Many are forced to choose between critical mental health treatment for themselves and providing for their families. It’s an impossible choice. Compounding the problem is the fact that those in treatment programs often can’t access food pantries and other agencies because the intake process is prohibitive to them. So many with mental health also face hunger.
To help close this gap, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin has partnered with St. Joseph Food Program and Oshkosh Area Community Pantry to create the Food Pantry Access Program, a pilot project that allows behavioral health day treatment clients to be referred to a local food pantry by their counselors, which allows them to bypass typical vetting processes. This ensures that those living with mental illness have access to critical nutrition.