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Nutrition & Food Insecurity

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J-Mar farm stand

 

Helping Families Access Healthy Food

It's no surprise that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables helps to protect one's health. Nationally, most Americans do not eat a healthy diet and are not physically active at levels needed to maintain proper health. Fewer than one in three adults, and an even lower proportion of adolescents, eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day. We also know it can be challenging for our neighbors living in poverty to acquire affordable nutritious food they need to stay healthy. In 2021, our WellSpan team conducted 182,000 screenings to identify more than 8,300 patients with food insecurity.

 

 

Through coalition participation and other community collaboratives, WellSpan supports programs and initiatives that benefit many families in accessing healthy food. Approximately 6,000 individuals are also served annually through WellSpan programs and partnership programs across our service area. Primary programs, not including case management referral and navigation, include:

Food Insecurity Community Collaboration
Maintained participation and leadership in each of the counties’ efforts to address food availability and insecurity, focused on closing the gaps and creating a stronger local food distribution system.

Market Basket of the Month
This initiative provided bi-lingual healthy eating educational materials to more than 50 community partners, worksites, schools, and markets this last year. The program features a different fruit and/or vegetable each month along with resources to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as part of a regular diet.

Market Bucks
This program provided fruit and vegetable vouchers to 474 WellSpan patients with food insecurity challenges in 2021, which contributes nearly $50,000 in revenue back to local farmers and growers. Since 2014, Market Bucks offered a "food is medicine" approach to helping nearly 900 food insecure patients access healthier foods from participating farm markets. Past program outcomes include a voucher redemption rate of 89 percent with 79 percent of participants reporting an increased consumption of vegetables. More than half of the participants lost weight.

Healthy Adams Coalition's Healthy Options
This innovative community-based project addressed hunger for over 1,500 individuals participating in 2021 offered in partnership with local grocery stores and farmers markets. The goal of this program is to address the needs of local families who are experiencing food insecurity but are not eligible for food assistance programs. The program provides "farmers' market vouchers" to families and offers a series of educational workshops, farm tours, and classes that instill nutrition and healthy lifestyle lessons.

WellSpan at Mondays Market
Partnered to provide a convenient location for those using Farmers Market Nutrition Program and WIC vouchers, reaching more than 500 community members this past season while also promoting themed weeks such as Latino Day, Community Day and Senior Day.

Gleaning Project of South Central PA
This community-driven project aims to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to food insecure population by reducing food loss on local farms in Adams and Franklin County. Over 20 growers, over 30 food distribution outlets and over 300 volunteers participate. After the food is harvested, it is packaged and delivered to local food pantries, free community meals, shelters, senior centers, after-school organizations, weekend backpack programs, and WIC offices - among many other locations. These efforts benefit more than 1,500 residents across Adams and Franklin County.

Community Garden Workshop
A Franklin County virtual community garden workshop engaged 124 people with a keynote presentation and sessions on foraging, herbs spiral, honeybees, and food scaping.

Shelf-Stable Meals
More than 250 food-insecure patients were identified through screening and discharged from our hospitals with shelf-stable meal kits to meet immediate needs until case management completes community-based referrals.

COVID-19 Hunger Relief
Nearly 400 people screened positive for food insecurity at the COVID-19 testing sites and were connected to curb-side food pantry pick up or home delivery through community partnerships.