There are a lot of topics that surround the matter of treating chronic disease with nutrition that go way beyond the simplicity of what we put into our bellies. This week we are interested in food access. What do you do when you can only afford the very foods that are keeping you from good health?
Tuesday, we visited the Good Samaritan Clinic in Portland, Oregon to find out how they are making access to fresh and organic produce and food staples a reality for many of their low income patients. Every Tuesday, My Street Grocery of Whole Foods Market rolls in the clinic’s parking lot where patients can spend vouchers that have been prescribed to them through the Food Rx Program.
The idea came about when registered nurse, Debbie Mckissack was counseling a diabetic patient. The patient responded to Debbie’s nutritional counseling by saying, “that’s a rich man’s diet. I can’t eat those things and pay for them.” Around that same time, Debbie had been introduced to Amelia Pape with My Street Grocery. The concept of connecting her patients to My Street Grocery led Debbie to apply for a grant, which has led to the weekly market day.
Amelia told us how the collaboration has not only brought access to a population that needs it, but the relationships between patient and provider alongside the staff at My Street Grocery has created a community spirit around food, which has made the program truly successful. Social worker, Scott Dillinger said that along with improvement with several health markers, depression decreased among participants in the program. “A lot of people who use our market are socially isolated, and just getting out and coming here every week has built this sense of community and has helped perk people’s spirits up.”
The Food Rx Program has been successfully funded by grants for 3 years now.