There are more than 15,000 food pantries in the U.S. and 1 in 7 people rely on them, according to USA Today. The deeper need, however – beyond food – is for healthy food.
Doctors and other healthcare providers recognize that fresh fruits and vegetables are not only better for patients, they can make all the difference in the condition of their health.
Take someone with diabetes, for example. A study conducted by Geisinger Health System found a 40% decrease in the risk of death or serious complications* among diabetes patients who began to consume healthier foods.*
Geisinger has their own healthy food pantry – which they call the Fresh Food Farmacy. And while the cost per patient is around $1,000 per year, Geisinger estimates the savings per patient is $24,000 per year. All because these patients now have access to healthier foods that allow them to better take care of themselves and manage their health.
And while there are challenges in setting up a healthy food pantry – costs, recruiting volunteers, keeping food from spoiling too quickly – the impact on the lives of patients makes the effort worth it. It’s simply a matter of a plan and a commitment from everyone involved to execute on the plan, including doctors, social workers and others in the patient’s universe of care providers. It’s also worth looking at other successful food pantry models, where innovative approaches like mobile delivery or setting up pantries in a central location provides easier access for patients. Cooking and nutrition classes are other complimentary approaches.
There are few such healthy food pantries nationally, but Blaze Advisors would like to change that. Blaze cares about the community and has experience pulling together resources and building collaboration between care providers at all levels.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the patient.