Food as Medicine ramps up efforts during COVID-19 crisis
Food as Medicine, an Atlanta-area program that teaches healthy eating and prescribes healthy foods, is proving essential amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new nonprofit is a collaboration between the Grady Health System Foundation, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Open Hand Atlanta and Wholesome Wave Georgia. It was preparing to open a building on Grady’s main campus when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.
Lisa Porter, who works with Humana’s Bold Goal in Atlanta, said Food as Medicine was set up to fill food prescriptions from physicians whose patients have chronic, diet-related diseases. It has expanded efforts in recent weeks as the need has grown exponentially.
Because Humana’s Bold Goal work involves helping communities address social determinants of health and health-related social needs, supporting Food as Medicine was important to Humana, Porter said.
Humana’s $100,000 pledge is going toward opening the new building – meant to be a gathering place and distribution center — and toward COVID-19 food relief.
Prior to shelter-in-place restrictions, Food as Medicine had one Fresh Food Cart in a Grady neighborhood health clinic, but the agency wanted to expand the service to two other neighborhood clinics while meeting social-distancing requirements. Food as Medicine has now established Fresh Food Drive-thru Carts at community health centers, delivering fresh produce and shelf-stable grains to help people manage chronic conditions and sustain their families.
In May, the first cart at the group’s Aca Yancey location provided 166 Grady patients with fresh, healthy food. Nothing was wasted, as leftover food went to 44 frontline health care staff. There are more Fresh Food Carts scheduled for this summer at three different Grady clinics.
With Humana’s support, the main building will be open and operating safely in July.