PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) -More than 16% of the population of Portage County is food insecure. That’s an increase of nearly 30% since the pandemic.
Now fifty families a month will know where their next meal is coming from thanks to the newly opened Food for Life Market at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center.
As part of their “Food as Medicine” initiative, patients are referred there by a doctor, and then they can shop in the choice pantry, for fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats, and pantry items.
“There’s plenty of recipes to take home as well,” said Anne Leach, registered dietician and Director, Clinical and Community Nutrition at Sodexo Healthcare.
A registered dietician will staff the market to help patients meet their health needs.
“The dietician knows if the patient is presenting with a diet-related illness such as diabetes or hypertension. So they get that one-on-one consultation from that dietician as they shop. They’re educated about certain items that we have,” said Leach.
“As a cardiologist at UH Portage, I recognize the role of a healthy diet in preventing and reversing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions,” explained Saneka Chakravarty, MD, president-elect of the medical staff at UH Portage and a lead advocate for UH Food for Life Market at UH Portage.
Patients can get a week’s worth of food, enough to feed a family of four, once a month for up to six months.
“As I meet with patients day to day, it is evident that they need additional assistance and a place I can refer them to develop and maintain healthy nutrition habits. I’m looking forward to offering these new resources, and helping patients enhance their quality of life,” said Dr. Chakravarty.
The UH Portage location will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays, by appointment only.
The is the second market of its kind in the area. The one in the Fairfax neighborhood at Otis Moss Health Center has been around since 2018, and they’re currently compiling data to see how that operation has positively affected patients wellness.