LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A new food pantry in Lansing is on a mission to provide healthy food to cancer patients and help address the growing problem of food insecurity in mid-Michigan.

While food pantries have become increasingly important as the cost of living rises, but the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing has a more specific purpose in mind: ensuring cancer patients have the proper nutrition necessary for their recovery.

The center cut the ribbon on its new food pantry in September.

“Two of our social workers shared the nutritional struggles they were seeing in some of our patients,” said Nick Erikson, Director of Oncology Services at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing. “The project evolved from the idea of a truck that could visit the hospital occasionally to a full pantry, accessible daily.”

One in eight people in mid-Michigan are food-insecure, according to the Greater Lansing Food Bank. For cancer patients, that need becomes even more critical.

“Proper nutrition is vital in helping patients tolerate treatment, maintain energy and achieve the best possible outcomes,’ said Daniel Isaac, a medical oncologist at Karmanos Cancer Institute.

The McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation funded the start-up costs for the food pantry. Greater Lansing Food Bank has partnered to prepare boxes of food, provide training and support.

So, who is eligible to get help from the food pantry?

“Any food-insecure oncology patient can tell any member of the staff, or fill out the distress questionnaire and answer that they are food insecure, and they will receive help,” said Kaytee Ivison, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Karmanos Cancer Institute.

“If a person is a member of SNAP or WIC, or receives free or reduced-price lunches, they would certainly qualify, but there is some flexibility. If you have a need, we will be here for you,” she added.