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Food as Medicine + Nutrition

Food as Medicine + Nutrition

Our Food as Medicine initiatives aim to improve the health outcomes of our clients by increasing access to nutrient-dense and health-supporting foods.

Hunger Poll

Which chronic disease is associated with very low food security?

  • A. Diabetes
  • B. Hypertension
  • C. Both A + B

The correct answer is C.

People who are food insecure are often making the tough choice to save costs by purchasing cheaper, less nutritious food. Therefore, many people with very low food security are at increased risk for both diabetes and hypertension.

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Good health is inextricably linked to the quantity and quality of foods available in one’s environment. Our Food as Medicine work improves the health outcomes of our clients by creating new opportunities to connect health care patients with highly nutritious and therapeutic foods.

Of the approximately 350,000 clients served annually by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and our more than 1,000 programmatic partners in six counties:

  • 1/3 live with a family member living with diabetes
  • 2/3 live in a household with a family member struggling with hypertension.

Food as Medicine partnerships are highly collaborative and include a variety of health care partners such as hospital systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and managed care organizations.

Priorities include working with our partners to expand screening for food insecurity, developing referral processes for food-insecure patients, expanding sustainable systems for increasing nutritious food access, connecting patients with public benefits such as SNAP, expanding nutrition education, and measuring outcomes associated with these efforts.

Through these efforts, Food as Medicine initiatives reduce food insecurity and eliminate some of the key barriers to improved health and well-being.

Food as Medicine Program and Service Offerings

Food Insecurity Screen and Referral Partnerships

Screening for Food Insecurity is recommended by medical policy and advocacy organizations such as the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP). Our partners incorporate screening as a standardized protocol into existing patient intake procedures. Patients who screen positive are then referred to comprehensive resources, including free local food options in their neighborhoods, are assisted in completing public benefits applications, and are referred to additional resources such as those available for housing and employment services.

Programs services food as medicine food box

Fresh Produce Distributions 

Fresh produce is delivered directly to healthcare centers, typically monthly, in areas of high need. Patients are able to return home with several days’ worth of nutritious produce.

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Therapeutic Food Clinics

Food clinics are full-service, highly nutritious food pantries located on-site at health care provider locations. Typically paired with food prescriptions, most food clinics aim to improve patient health outcomes for a variety of health conditions.

Food Insecurity and Nutrition Education

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank provides a broad variety of educational services, including training on the relationship between food insecurity and health outcomes for healthcare practitioners, as well as nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and grocery store tours for patients and clients of the Food Bank.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is now offering nutrition education and nutritious cooking demonstrations at our Community Resource Center onsite kitchen.  We are welcoming nutrition professionals from around the community to join us in teaching at this space. If you are interested in hosting a session in the onsite kitchen, please fill out this form, and our Community Health and Nutrition team will reach out to you with details.

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Nourishing Beginnings

Nourishing Beginnings supports pregnant people in Cuyahoga County who are Medicaid eligible by connecting them to fresh, nutritious food during their pregnancy and postpartum.  This program is a collaboration between Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Better Health Partnership, and Case Western Reserve University.  For more information on the program, click here. For information on the research, click here

If you’re interested in enrolling, please email Dia Orlowski, our Root Cause Coordinator for Healthcare Programs.

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For more information on our Food as Medicine programming and inquiry of potential partnerships, please contact our Food as Medicine Staff via email.

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