University Hospitals develops food-as-medicine model to address food insecurity

The healthy food provided at a new market also serves to combat chronic health conditions.

food as medicine market

Photograph courtesy of University Hospitals

University Hospitals in Cleveland has opened a new Food for Life Market, which will provide healthy food as a means to address chronic health conditions as well as the issue of food insecurity for patients and nearby residents.

University Hospitals will offer patients one week’s worth of food free of charge following a referral from their physician. Patients will also receive the option to meet with University Hospital dietitians who can help them with their dietary needs by encouraging optimal food choices.

Patients are also eligible to receive food assistance once a month for up to six months and can renew that eligibility by meeting again with their physician.

The county in which University Hospitals is located has the highest number of food-insecure residents and children in Ohio. The health systems’ Otis Moss Jr. Health Center, where Food for Life is housed, will hold healthy cooking demonstrations and lessons in meal preparation.

“We will follow the health of these patients over time, and we’ll be able to track their progress on specific diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, by measuring indicators such as hemoglobin A1c and blood pressure,” said Anne Leach, community program director and wellness dietitian for Sodexo Healthcare, in a press release. “We have developed a ‘preventive food as medicine model’ to address food insecurity, which we know if prolonged or repeated, can have negative health consequences.”  

 

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