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Hospital food. Most of us have been unlucky enough to experience the bland, unappetizing stuff. But health professionals are starting to promote healthy eating habits in new and exciting ways. From full scale production farms to prescriptions for healthy eating, here are some of the innovative ways that hospitals and healthcare centers are getting creative about food.
Last July, the Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury was looking to tackle health disparities in the city. They enlisted Green City Growers to design, build, and maintain a community food garden. Patients see the abundant raised beds and fruit trees every time they go for a checkup. They’re encouraged to help tend their own plots, and can receive free produce from the garden when they attend cooking demonstrations led by nutritionists. And the program doesn’t just benefit patients at Whittier. New-found knowledge and attitudes toward food will spread to their family, friends, and coworkers—ultimately contributing to wellness in the greater community.
Doctors today are coming around to what Hippocrates knew in ancient times. At Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, physicians are prescribing cooking lessons. Paired with instruction from dietitians, the classes are held in a new classroom kitchen where patients can actually practice what they are learning. For instance, patients with high blood pressure are taught how eating more fruit each day can help to lower BP. They are then shown how to prepare easy, relevant recipes, like pineapple and avocado salsa and raspberry-beet smoothies.
Access to fresh produce can be limited for many city-dwellers, due to cost and geography. Mass General Hospital’s Chelsea HealthCare Center has come up with a creative solution: Their food pantry, opened in 2014, is located within the health center. “There’s no stigma to it. It’s right where people get their primary care,” says Sarah Abernathy Oo, director of community health improvement for MGH Chelsea. The pantry is just one project facilitated by Chelsea HealthCare’s Healthy Chelsea coalition. The group has also advocated for improved school meals, more exercise time in schools, and the city’s trans-fat ban, which was implemented last fall.
Green City Growers is proud to partner with organizations like Whittier Street Health Center to generate real progress for community health and wellbeing. To start designing your own community health solution, schedule a consult.