SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital and Catholic Charities announce Hope and Healing Food Bags


Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri ( and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital‒Jefferson City ( have joined together to create the Hope and Healing Food Bags.

SSM Health is investing $50,000 in the Hope and Healing Food Bag program for patients in Mid-Missouri.

This collaborative effort will improve access to food resources, which will impact the overall health and well-being of area residents through this collaborative partnership.

Three years ago, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation began a relationship with Catholic Charities to address food insecurity in the local community.

“Because we believe you cannot have optimum health without access to nutrition, we have invested $445,000 over the past three years toward Catholic Charities’ grocery model client choice pantry, at the former Shikles Auditorium, to improve the health and nutrition of our neighbors in the midst of low-income housing,” noted K.C. DeBoer, SSM Health Mid-Missouri regional president and president of St. Mary’s Hospital.

In recent years, the entire SSM Health system, spanning four states, has been on a mission-driven journey to proactively address social determinants of health, including food insecurity.

These efforts have included the creation of clinically-integrated food pantries in many of SSM Health hospitals and clinics.

Inspired by the sisters who founded the hospitals and guided by the mission they defined, St. Mary’s and Catholic Charities built upon their already strong relationship to launch this new program in Jefferson City.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri Executive Director Litz Main said this new collaboration began this year when SSM Health approached Catholic Charities with a novel idea to address food insecurity among their patients.

“Recognizing the importance of social determinants of health, particularly access to food resources, we joined forces to create a solution,” said Ms. Main.

The shared vision was for Catholic Charities to provide two days’ worth of food for the patients to take home upon being discharged from St. Mary’s Hospital, along with additional resources for sustained food and nutrition support. 

“Thus, the Hope and Healing Food Bags were conceived!” said Ms. Main.

A soft launch of the food bag program was initiated in August at St. Mary’s Hospital. It expanded shortly thereafter to SSM Health Medical Group Pediatrics Clinic with the support of the pediatricians who recognized the need for nutrition for families served by the clinic.

As children grow and develop, they need important nutrients to be strong and healthy.

Some of the benefits of healthy eating include:

  • stable energy;
  • strong bones and teeth;
  • improved mental health, facilitating clear thinking and alertness;
  • maintenance of a healthy weight;
  • prevention of chronic diseases

If patients of any age do not have access to adequate nutrition, they cannot move forward on their journey toward healing and health.

Patients without adequate nutrition are more likely to return to the hospital.

These efforts are not just to solve the issue of needs for food for two days but to connect patients with resources such as Catholic Charities that can remove food insecurity from their life.