Food insecurity is focus of Davis Medical Center’s Food Farmacy

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:29 PM EST
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ELKINS, W.Va (WDTV) - Davis Health System has a new program aimed at promoting healthy eating habits through farm-fresh foods.

Through this pilot program, hospital officials hope to promote a well-rounded diet as a form of preventative medicine.

Davis health is taking a new approach when it comes to healthy living.

“West Virginia in particular has a lot of areas that are considered food deserts and what that means is that people have to travel 10 miles or more to the nearest grocery store,” said Dr. Catherine Chua, Davis Health System Chief Medical Officer.

A majority of a person’s health is determined by a number of social factors and Dr. Chua says that includes food insecurity.

“When somebody has to travel that far in an area where we have the geography like we do, people are very spread out, it’s very difficult for people to get healthful food,” said Dr. Chua.

That’s where the Food Farmacy is helping alleviate that issue.

Teaching them things like utilizing dry beans and making a pot of beans rather than buying a container of re-fried beans that would stretch their food dollars and that’s what we’re teaching,” said Dr. Chua.

The six-month initiative provides recipes, created by hospital dieticians, doctors and staff, using food provided by Kroger and Mountaineer Food Bank, and DHS.

“Currently we have 5 families enrolled,” said Dr. Chua.

One day each week, participants will receive the recipes and the ingredients needed to prepare the health-oriented menus.

This Dr. Chua says can decrease the likelihood of diabetes, thyroid issues, high blood pressure and other medical issues that can result from unhealthy eating habits.

“In order for us to improve the health of our communities of our counties of our state of our county we need to, as healthcare organization, start paying attention to those things that cause people to become unhealthy rather than only treating them once they become unhealthy.”

DHS physicians will measure changes to their well-being. After the six-month pilot, the physicians will again monitor changes to see if the education actually took over the course of the year. Dr. Chua says she hopes she can take that data and use it to apply for grants to build a grocery with fresh-farmed food.

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