Mid-Ohio Food Collective receives grant for ‘Farmacy’ program


The Mid-Ohio Food Collective (MOFC) received a $150,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, to continue its Mid-Ohio Farmacy “Food as Medicine” program. This initiative will support MOFC as it collaborates with OhioHealth to screen patients for food insecurity during health care visits. OhioHealth will then connect patients who screen positive for food insecurity to food assistance resources onsite at health care facilities and at community-based food pantries and meal programs.

The “Food as Medicine” program, a Feeding America initiative funded by the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, will help connect people and families facing hunger in central Ohio to food distribution programs that provide regular access to healthy food options. The program aims to screen hundreds of patients over the next three years with the goal of improving food security and related outcomes. This phase of the program will help MOFC and OhioHealth implement enhanced data collection, sharing and analysis to better understand the needs of people facing hunger and deliver effective solutions.

“When people eat healthy food, they can be healthy,” said Dr. Amy Headings, MOFC’s director of research and nutrition who leads the Food Collective’s Mid-Ohio Farmacy program. “This grant will allow Ohio’s largest foodbank to collaborate directly with one of the area’s largest care providers in ways that are measurable and effective at improving outcomes for our customers experiencing food insecurity.”

The grant will allow MOFC to expand its previous partnership with the OhioHealth system of hospitals and care sites. The organizations had worked together on a “Food as Medicine” pilot that provided nutritious food on-site at select OhioHealth hospital locations. This new opportunity will deepen the scope of work from the previous collaboration by leveraging food insecurity screenings through electronic health record system referrals to Mid-Ohio Food Collective’s Farmacy program. Patients referred into the Mid-Ohio Farmacy program have weekly access to fresh, healthy produce at any one of its participating Mid-Ohio Farmacy agency locations at no out-of-pocket cost.

“We are encouraged by the outcomes of the pilot program and grateful for the opportunity to expand access to healthy food for patients,” said Karen Morrison, president of the OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president of OhioHealth. “Advancing health equity is a strategic priority for OhioHealth and this dynamic partnership with MOFC is an example of how we can significantly impact the wellbeing of the communities we serve.”

“We continue to invest and support programs that address food insecurity by helping individuals reach optimal health through good nutrition,” said Greg LaManna, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Medicaid president in Ohio. “Research demonstrates that hunger, health, and well-being are deeply connected. This unique partnership will allow clinical staff to conduct universal food insecurity screenings and interventions. Food is medicine and consistent access to nutritious food is an essential part of maintaining health and we remain committed to removing barriers and creating sustainable change with partners across the health ecosystem.”

Food security and health are inextricably linked. The lack of access to nutritious foods can have serious, long-term effects on health and well-being, and it can make managing existing chronic conditions more difficult for people facing hunger. The “Food as Medicine” program will provide MOFC and OhioHealth with data collection capabilities that will help identify learnings and best practices to enable positive health outcomes in participants. Mid-Ohio Food Collective, a member of the Feeding America network, is one of 21 food banks to receive this funding from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.

Learn more at www.mofc.org.

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