By sharing information about the Fresh Food Farmacy, we hope to create a collaborative forum for sharing information and inspiring this program to become available nationwide.
How the program works
Why does Geisinger offer this program?
It’s projected that by 2050, 1 in 3 adults will have diabetes. We believe this program is the right thing to do medically, socially and financially. And we’ve learned that addressing the social determinants of health can have a huge impact on the health of the entire population.
Why did you decide to start this program?
Geisinger recognized a need within our patient population. Food insecurity is a common problem affecting 1 in 8 adults in America, 1 in 7 adults in Pennsylvania, and in some of our communities, ultimately affecting 30 to 60 percent of our patients.
How do patients enroll?
We screen our patients over age 18 for Type 2 diabetes, with hemoglobin HbA1c greater than 8.0. If the patients can commit to bi-weekly food pickups, participating in education, engaging with our care team and lifestyle changes, we make the referral.
How is the program staffed?
The program consists of a clinical care team that may include registered nurses, registered dietitians, health coaches and/or community health associates.
How important is patient education?
It’s paramount. Patients can participate in no-cost evidence-based education, dietary consultations and classes to address healthy eating, diabetes-related challenges and other topics depending on patient needs. Patients must commit to lifestyle changes and program requirements and show successful clinical outcomes.
Where is the Fresh Food Farmacy located?
Fresh Food Farmacy sites are in Shamokin, Scranton and Lewistown. We also operate a satellite location in Jersey Shore.
Food and nutrition
Food is purchased from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank or CEO Weinberg Regional Food Bank, wholesale food distribution and from retail stores.
What types of foods do you offer?
We offer whole grains, fruits and vegetables (limited canned and frozen), lean proteins and low-fat dairy products, as well as staple items that meet our nutritional parameters based on specific patient needs. For example, we use the American Diabetes Association plate method for our patients with diabetes.
Is the food tailored to the patient’s medical condition?
Yes. All our food is diabetes appropriate.
How often does a patient receive food?
What is the role of food banks in your partnership?
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the CEO Weinberg Regional Food Bank are our primary food suppliers.
How much food do you provide a patient?
We provide enough food for the patient and all household members for two meals a day, five days of the week (10 meals per week).
What outcomes have you seen?
We’ve seen significant improvements in blood sugars, HBA1c, cholesterol and blood pressure control. Informally, the program is also showing patient improvements in mood, increased confidence to manage their chronic conditions, improved testing and monitoring of their health metrics and overall closure of healthcare gaps, such as diabetic eye exams and diabetics foot exams, among others.
How are you measuring return on investment?
Improvements in HBA1C translate to improved diabetes management which will result in fewer complications in the long term and lower healthcare costs.
Is the model scalable?
Yes! And we’re cultivating partnerships that allow us to make the Fresh Food Farmacy available to more people who need it.
We’ve also piloted this program with patients who have other chronic diseases. And we’re seeing great results.