Healthy Begins Before Birth program underway

Some of Jacksonville’s highest-risk moms are enrolled in a new program that allows them to have nutritious meals and receive additional resources to help their babies grow healthy. Low-income, pregnant women are identified by Shands Jacksonville — including Healthy Start and Nurse Family Partnership clients — to receive food and services through the Second Harvest North Florida’s “Healthy Begins Before Birth” nutrition program.

The program is managed by a registered dietitian, who is working with Shands Jacksonville to identify eligible women through OB doctors, the Shands women’s clinic, Healthy Start and NFP. All OB patients are pre-screened, and those identified as high risk are referred to and enrolled in the program.

The women received starter bags with food and personal products at their initial meeting. The food bank creates weekly bags of food filled with seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables and box/bagged food. Second Harvest also is collecting and reserving diapers, children books, prenatal vitamins, lotions, bath oil, baby toys and other mother-friendly items, as they are donated to the food bank, to include in the boxes.

The program recently expanded to the Beaches area, where Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry is assisting with enrollment of clients.

Twenty-one clients are currently enrolled in the program, 19 from Shands (two are The Bridge of Northeast Florida clients) and two at BEAM. Services are delivered from pregnancy through to two months postpartum, allowing new moms to enroll as clients move out of the program.