PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Type two diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are just a few of the illnesses that Maine doctors treat that are linked to a lack of healthy food options. Many patients in Maine want to eat better, but struggle to see how they can afford to do it.

The Community Health and Hunger Program makes it so patients don't have to worry about where a nutritious meal is coming from. That way, they can focus on getting better.

Good Shepherd Food Bank works with hospitals to provide emergency assistance bags. They're packed with three days worth of nutrition dense foods and full of information on food pantries in the area.

Dr. Evan Savage of New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland has seen this partnership improve diets, and help keep people from repeatedly coming back to the hospital.

"This is probably one of the most cost effective preventative medicine strategies we have," says Dr. Savage.

Since it started in 2017, the Community Health and Hunger Program has grown to include 21 healthcare organizations that are screening patients at 30 different locations. Good Shepherd Food Bank has distributed more than 15,000 pounds of food in emergency assistance bags in healthcare centers in the past year.