Aiming to educate patients on diet and nutrition, University Hospitals Conneaut Medical Center opened a Food for Life Market, part of a holistic approach to addressing food insecurity and medical conditions affected by nutrition and access to healthy food in rural areas and food deserts, according to a news release.
With food provided by the Cleveland Food Bank through a partnership with Country Neighbor in Orwell and local donations, the UH Conneaut Food for Life Market is stocked with a variety of nutritious foods, including whole grains, dairy, fresh and frozen produce, canned fruits, vegetables and meats.
The Ashtabula Foundation donated $48,200 to make opening the market possible. It’s the first and only medically-based nutrition program in Ashtabula County, and it’s UH’s fourth market across Northeast Ohio, according to the release. UH’s other markets are in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood (opened in October 2018 within the Otis Moss Jr. Health Center); the UH Portage Food for Life Market (opened in February 2021 and located in the lobby of the medical center) and UH Cleveland Medical Center’s Food for Life Market (opened in August 2021 in the Bolwell Center).
The Food for Life program is a collaboration between UH’s Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Sodexo Nutrition Services, the release stated. Sodexo Healthcare has worked on behalf of UH to establish the markets across the system.
“The UH Food for Life Market focuses on the direct connection between food and a person’s health,” said Anne Leach, registered dietitian and director of clinical and community nutrition with Sodexo Healthcare, in a provided statement. “UH has implemented a preventive food as medicine model to address food insecurity, which we know, if prolonged or repeated, can have negative health consequences.”
Through work with primary care providers, patients who identify as food insecure can receive a referral to the market for a family of four and may visit for up to six months with possible extensions as needed, according to the release. A dietitian works with patients as they’re shopping to provide one-on-one consultations and healthy recipes.
Open by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the UH Conneaut location is expected to serve 50 patients and their family members per month, according to the release.