Healthier ATL possible through Food as Medicine program
By Lesley Grady, senior vice president, community, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Eating fruits and veggies goes hand-in-hand with health. When doctors at Atlanta’s Grady Health System saw low-income patients struggle with diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure, they sought an affordable nutrition solution. They found it in an innovative and low-tech program that prescribes fresh fruits and vegetables to patients.
Now, the Food as Medicine partnership, spearheaded by Grady, is a collaboration between the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Open Hand Atlanta and Wholesome Wave Georgia. Individuals with chronic, diet-related diseases receive free food from participating farmers markets, attend cooking and nutrition classes and set healthy eating goals. Grady patients — about 50 percent of whom are food insecure — access fresh ingredients and learn how to prepare healthy meals. Funding from Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta donors and a $100,000 Strategic Restructuring Fund grant in 2018, has helped grow the program from 30 participants in 2016 to 150 individuals in 2018 representing 375 household members.
Soon, a facility on Grady’s main campus will offer a pharmacy stocked with fresh, local produce, a teaching kitchen, onsite nutrition services and a cafe with ready-to-eat meals. In three years, the program expects to have more than 510 patients, or 1,530 household members. Their future, and their kids’ future, will be healthier.
Note to readers: Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta would like to share some sad news about our colleague, Dan Williams. Dan Williams passed last week. As noted in his obituary, Dan led the Community Foundation’s Well-being impact area work and grantmaking, which included our efforts around HIV/AIDS, homelessness and food security. He was closely involved in the partnership highlighted in the above post. It is valuable work like that partnership that speaks to the vital role he has played in our community through his work here at the Foundation as well as in previous roles with United Way of Greater Atlanta and other organizations.