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Temple University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children Collaborate to Bring Fresh Food to Local Families

News November 08, 2016

Temple University Hospital (TUH) is located in a medically underserved area where 30 percent of individuals live below the federal poverty level and many of these residents have the poorest health outcomes due to chronic diseases related to lack of local food and recreation resources.

In order to address these challenges, TUH and the Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have launched a new ‘Farm to Families’ program in partnership with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, and produce to families who may not have access or otherwise be able to afford these items.

Farm to Families is a collaborative community-based effort to provide dietary options to children and families in North Philadelphia by addressing obstacles to healthy eating, including access to nutritious foods and information on nutrition and food preparation.

St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children (SCFC) partners with the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative to source, package and deliver fresh food to Farm to Family community food hubs. Temple University Hospital will serve as a site where families in the North Philadelphia community will be able to buy organically grown produce at a discounted price. The produce is picked fresh and brought to Philadelphia the day before distribution.

“Our pediatricians see children every day struggling with diet-related illnesses as well as families who are at-risk for food insecurity,” says Kathleen Reeves, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Director of the Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy, and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at LKSOM. “Farm to Families will not only be a viable way for families to have easy access to the fresh food, but they will also be able to afford these items. Temple is committed to providing the highest quality of health care to the community, so it makes sense that we support a program like Farm to Families.”

Temple physicians will be able to refer patients to the program by providing a “FreshRx prescription,” which is a coupon to receive fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs at discounted prices for the life of the program. Through the Farm to Families program, families will be able to purchase a box of farm-fresh produce on a weekly basis, observe cooking demonstrations and participate in taste tests, and obtain information on health benefits of the fruits and vegetables they have purchased.

“Everyone is welcomed to purchase a box of fresh food,” says Jamiliyah Foster, Program Director at SCFC. “The most interesting part of the program is to see a patient’s doctor or nurse buying a box alongside them. It’s important for our customers to see that. We are all about providing fresh food and maintaining the dignity of our clients at the same time.”

SCFC started the Farm to Families program in 2010 and has established several other successful sites in the Philadelphia area, including St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Levittown and Bensalem.

To learn more about the program, visit