You don’t have to be a doctor to give patients access to the most basic medicine of all: a healthy diet. You feed our hungry community, but this summer you also made a weekly share of farm fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to more than 60 people through our new program: Farm Share Rx.
Over the course of 10 weeks participants and their families brought in a re-usable bag which was filled with a free assortment of produce.
“We came every week,” said Philip, a Grand Ronde patient. “My doctor was pushing me to eat more healthy foods.”
Osprey Farm in Willamina partnered with the Food Share and Grand Ronde Health and Wellness Center to serve their community.
Philip and his wife Cari especially enjoyed making cucumber and tomato salad and trying a recipe for fruit and nut slaw.
“It’s so much better for you when you can eat them fresh,” Cari said.
Not only did the nutritional value of their meals increase but their health improved in the process.
“My blood pressure has gone down,” Philip said. “My blood sugar is steady as well. My health has gotten a lot better; I’m glad my doctor recommended it.”
Research shows that there is a strong correlation between food insecurity, poverty and diet-related diseases like diabetes.
“We know that there is a link between obesity and food insecurity. One area of particular interest to us is obesity prevention, which is what drew us to this project,” said Sharon Heuer, Salem Health’s Director of Community Benefit Integration.
Because of you and Salem Health’s generous grant, access and affordability were not barriers for Delbert and his wife Janice.
“The food pantry, our garden and this farm share are how we put food on the table,” Delbert said. “Our garden was so late this year that we only had three small pickings.”
A friend told them about the Farm Share Rx which created a more well-rounded diet for the couple.
In Salem, Lancaster Family Health Center and the WVP Weight Management Clinic selected patients managing diet-related illnesses to receive produce grown by students on our Youth Farm.
Your generosity allowed the program to also offer samples, recipes and an invitation to free classes on subjects such as canning and grocery budgeting. While much of the produce is familiar to the patients – tomatoes, lettuce, carrots – some introductions were made.
“People will come up to us and ask ‘What is this?’” said Carla, a first year Youth Farmer.
In both locations, kohlrabi was the most popular of the unusual vegetables.
“Kohlrabi has gone to the top of list now, along with beets and tomatoes,” Delbert said. “The variety is to my liking. It’s an awesome program.”
With your help, we plan to expand the Farm Share Rx next summer to help more patients improve their health one meal at a time.