HUDSON VALLEY, NY, September 19, 2022 — With many families still struggling from the COVID pandemic and with the increased cost of groceries, local food panties are expecting to be busier than ever before.

To help meet families’ nutritional needs this fall, Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) and the American Heart Association are launching a program which encourages the support of community food banks through the donation of healthy-choice food options, the Stocking Healthy Pantries Program.

The campaign kicks off in the fall, as families are settling back into the routine of the school year. The American Heart Association and WMCHealth will provide information to potential donors about heart-healthy food products, and have information at the food pantries about kitchen essentials and healthy food swaps that people can make to maximize their nutritional intake.

“We know many people in our region have nutrition insecurity,” said Falak Shah, MD, the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Director at WMCHealth’s HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, N.Y.

“We want to be sure everyone has access not just to food, but to healthy food. Stocking Healthy Pantries is one way WMCHealth and the American Heart Association are raising awareness about heart disease prevention, and creating equitable health in our area,” said Dr. Shah, who is also a board member of the American Heart Association’s Hudson Valley chapter.

WMCHealth is accepting donations of healthy food at HealthAlliance Hospital and MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Donations will go to People’s Place in Kingston and Fishkill Food Pantry.

We don't want to provide food to just solve someone's hunger, we strive to offer healthy food options packed with vitamins and minerals so that not only are people no longer hungry, but they are getting the nutrients they need to have a healthy body and a healthy life,” said Christine Hein, executive director at People’s Place, a food pantry, thrift store and community café. “We are extremely excited to partner with the American Heart Association and WMCHealth on this food initiative. When we all work together, our community is a better place to live. We are always better together.”

“We’re happy to work with WMCHealth on the Stocking Healthy Pantries program,” said Alex DiCicco, Board Chair, Hudson Valley Board of Directors. “Although heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans, we know that with proper lifestyle changes, like nutrition and exercise, much of heart disease is preventable. That’s why we talk about nutrition insecurity rather than food insecurity. By making it easier for more people in our communities to obtain healthy food, we can reduce some of the risks for heart disease and stroke.”

For information about Stocking Healthy Pantries, contact or visit

Suggested food items include:

  • Water
  • Powdered milk
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Canned meat (tuna, chicken), no sodium added
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Whole grain, natural granola bars
  • Canned vegetables, no added sodium
  • Canned fruit in 100 % fruit juice
  • Natural applesauce
  • Soups, low or no sodium
  • Dried fruit, no added sugar
  • Healthier cooking oils, like olive oil

Additional Resources: 

About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with nine hospitals on seven campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 13,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level I (adult and pediatric), Level II and Level III trauma centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, home-care services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated health care in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit or follow WMCHealth on or

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