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Award highlights partnership addressing hunger and diabetes health

PHOENIX – Since launching the Fresh Food Farmacy in 2016, Geisinger and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank have been working hand-in-hand to battle diabetes by supplying patients with food to help them better control their conditions. The collaboration has led to several honors for both organizations, most recently the 2019 Healthcare Supply Chainnovator Award.

Presented to representatives of Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, the 2019 Healthcare Supply Chainnovator Award recognizes unconventional, innovative and high-impact supply chain initiatives in the health care industry. The award highlights those who think outside of the box to address logistical challenges to provide better health care to their patients.

The Fresh Food Farmacy program caught Gartner’s attention for helping patients better control their diabetes through education and less medication, leading to better health outcomes and a reduction in medical costs. The program addresses two key factors including food insecurity and uncontrolled diabetes.

“This program highlights the new and innovative role supply chain can have in health care,” said Allison Hess, Vice President of Health at the Geisinger Steele Institute for Health Innovation. “We took a non-traditional supply chain approach through our partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and created an innovative and collaborative way to deliver care by using food as medicine. The right culture and organizations are needed to successfully implement such a program. In this case, the alignment between our two organizations focused on patient experience, impacting social determinants of health by closing the meal gap with healthy nutritious options, and positively impacting the health of patients and communities – all while disrupting the traditional fee-for-service model.”

Before its summer 2016 launch, Geisinger and the CPFB spent about a year planning the type of food needed to meet nutrition guidelines and ensuring a variety of fruits and vegetables would be available year round. This work included developing and deploying technology to track food inventory, food ordering and tracking patients to make sure their food and medical needs were met. The Fresh Food Farmacy provides fresh, healthy food to patients and their families for up to 10 meals per week.

“Our Food Bank believes every person in the communities we serve should have access to enough nutritious meals every day,” said Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the CPFB. “We’re proud to be a partner in a program that has become a game-changer to hundreds of patients in central Pennsylvania and in helping our neighbors achieve better health outcomes.”

The partnership between the two organizations also provides a way for local farmers and organizations to contribute to the mission of providing food as medicine. Farmers and community gardens can donate to the Fresh Food Farmacy through the Food Bank. 

Data from Fresh Food Farmacy patients shows an average 2-point drop in HbA1c levels, along with lower weight, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. It also shows patients who enrolled in the program have higher compliance with preventive care screenings, visit the emergency room less frequently and have lower hospital admission rates when compared to similar patients who choose not to enroll. 
 
The Fresh Food Farmacy in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, currently has 200 patients per week getting meals. This program feeds the participant and his or her family, which means more than 500 individuals in the Shamokin community are benefiting from this program. A second location opened in March in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and at capacity will serve 500 patients per week and more than 1,000 community members. A third location is expected to open in the summer in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. For more information on the Fresh Food Farmacy click here.

About the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce hunger in 27 counties across Pennsylvania. By working with more than 1,000 local agencies and partner programs, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves nearly 140,000 people in need every month. For more information on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and its mission to reduce hunger in Pennsylvania, visit centralpafoodbank.org or call 717-564-1700.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a Research Institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Allison Hess and Joe Arthur with the 2019 Healthcare Chainnovator Award
Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy was honored at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference with the 2019 Healthcare Supply Chainnovator Award. Allison Hess, Vice President of Health at the Geisinger Steele Institute for Health Innovation, and Joe Arthur, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director, are pictured with the 2019 Healthcare Supply Chainnovator Award. 

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