Food as Good Medicine

Erin Booker, LPC

ChristianaCare is partnering with Lutheran Community Services to tackle health disparities through food with the launch of the Delaware Food Farmacy. Poor nutrition is often an underlying cause of poor health and a risk factor for many health conditions.

The program combines health care and food delivery and nutrition education to create health and help people to thrive.

The goal is to help patients achieve long-term health improvements by providing them with holistic care.

“We know many of our neighbors face food insecurities that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Erin Booker, LPC, vice president of Behavioral Health and Social Care Integration at ChristianaCare.

“Through this partnership we are minimizing barriers to equitable care by offering radical convenience and wraparound support.”

In its pilot phase, the Food Farmacy expects to deliver 50,000 meals.

The Delaware Food Farmacy is available to Medicaid patients suffering from poorly controlled diabetes, hypertension or heart failure. Along with weekly food deliveries, participating patients also receive extensive clinical care, ongoing disease management, nutritional education and personalized social care.

Each participant is enrolled in the program for six months and receives enough food for 10 meals per week for each member of the household. One family of four will receive enough food for approximately 1,000 meals over the course of the program.

Participants use an order form to select among fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy, beans, grains and other healthy foods. Each household also receives a welcome kit based on a kitchen inventory survey. That kit may include cutting boards, mixing bowls and other essential items that they might need in order to prepare meals.

“Our partnership enables the type of innovation required to meet an important need,” said Rob Gurnee, executive director of Lutheran Community Services.

“By utilizing Lutheran Community Services’ food as medicine and making it easily accessible, in combination with ChristianaCare’s health care expertise, we can make positive health outcomes possible for some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

The Delaware Food Farmacy launched in February and expects to deliver more than 50,000 meals through the pilot phase of the program.