The Food Farmacy Program at Harris Health is a unique food prescription program based on a holistic approach to improve the health of the community we serve.
An estimated 55% of the population in northeast Harris County — LBJ Hospital’s major service area — lives at or below the federal poverty level and more than 13,000 residents suffer daily from hunger. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers the area a food desert, meaning the area suffers from a lack of access to healthy food options.
“Our patients face the unique healthcare burdens associated with poverty. They live in food deserts and lack the support needed to nurture and sustain healthy habits,” says Patricia Darnauer, executive vice president and administrator, LBJ Hospital, Harris Health.
The initial goal of the Food Farmacy Program was to address nutrition‐related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension by establishing a hospital-based food pharmacy where patients can receive 30 pounds of fresh produce every two weeks to help them develop healthy lifestyle changes. Food supplies will be filled by crops harvested from the hospital farm, the Houston Food Bank and other community partners.
The program features “walk-and-learn” sessions with patients by dietitians who teach participants about food selection and its effects on their health. The lessons are aligned with the culinary nutrition curriculum from UTHealth School of Public Health Nourish Program and provides patients with tools to prepare food they receive with consideration to cost, preparation time, taste, cultural sensitivity and their specific health condition. When patients successfully complete the program, they will receive a gift to help them continue their new healthy habits at home.
How can you help?
While the Food Farmacy is a no-cost program for patients, there are significant costs associated with storing and providing food, maintaining commercial kitchen equipment and educating patients.
For $50, you can provide a celebratory gift for a patient who successfully graduates from the program. For $100, you can provide food for six patients and their families and help them in their journey to healthier futures. We encourage you to make a gift today to support our patients as they make life changing healthy habits.