Food insecurity addressed through opening of Food for Life Market

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Physicians and dietitians to work with patients in ‘preventive model’ using healthy free food as means of tackling chronic health conditions

CLEVELAND – University Hospitals continues its effort to improve the health and wellness of the Cleveland community through the opening of the new Food for Life Market – a preventive model to address chronic health conditions by providing free healthy food and consultations with dietitians.

Located in the UH Otis Moss Jr. Health Center, which resides in one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods, the Food for Life Market takes community-based healthcare to the next level.  Cuyahoga County has the highest number of food-insecure residents and children in the state of Ohio. Specifically, the Fairfax neighborhood has been designated a food desert, defined as an impoverished area with limited access to a grocery store, by Cuyahoga County Board of Health's Creating Healthy Communities program and the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. 

To address the issue of food insecurity for its patients and residents of the Fairfax neighborhood, UH will offer them one week’s worth of food without charge, following a referral from their physician. Patients also will receive the option to meet with UH dietitians, who can counsel them on dietary needs and optimal food choices. Patients are eligible to receive the food assistance once a month for up to six months and can get an extension by meeting again with their physician. 

“Food insecurity can play a major role in health, disease, and well-being,” said Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, Community Impact, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at UH and the University Hospitals Edgar B. Jackson Jr., MD, Chair of Clinical Excellence and Diversity. “Access to the right kinds of food and incorporating that food into your diet can have important, beneficial effects on health, such as lowering blood pressure or blood sugar,” she said. “The initiative’s full name emphasizes that vital characteristic of this market:  Food for Life Market – Where the Health of Our Community Begins.”

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