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Frequently asked questions

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?  
We offer a “food as medicine” approach to our patients with diabetes and who are food insecure. Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition. Thirty-nine million or 15% of adults will have diabetes by 2020. By 2050, 1 in 3 adults will have diabetes. We believe this program is the right thing to do medically, socially and financially, and addresses the social determinants of health of 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 30-60 percent of our patients. 

How do patients enroll? 
We screen our patients for Type 2 diabetes (over age 18), with hemoglobin HbA1c greater than 8.0. If the patients are able to commit to weekly food pick-ups, participate in the education part of the program and engage with our care team, we facilitate the referral. They can then begin the program. 

How is the program staffed? 
The program consists of a registered nurse health manager, MTM pharmacist, registered dietitian, pantry manager/clerk, wellness staff and community health associate.

How important is patient education?
It’s paramount. Program patients can participate in no-cost diabetes self-management classes, dietary consultations and workshops to address healthy eating, diabetes challenges, social determinants of health and many other topics that are responsive to patients needs or requests.

What is your targeted patient volume per location? 

Our goal is to treat 250 patients/households per week. One average that translates to feeding 750-1,000 people each week.

Do you have a Fresh Food Farmacy at each hospital?
No. The Fresh Food Farmacy is currently located at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital in Shamokin, Pa. Sites are coming in Lackawanna County in spring 2019 and Juniata and Mifflin Counties in summer 2019. Neither of our new locations will be housed at a hospital campus. Find a Farmacy location.


Food and nutrition

Who provides the food and how much is donated/sourced, etc.?
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?
Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy products. We use the plate method and provide guidance on menu planning and recipes.  

Is the food tailored to the patient’s medical condition?

Yes. All of our food is diabetes appropriate. 

How often does a patient receive food?
Weekly. Nutritious meals are provided twice a day for five days (10 meals per week) for the patient and all household members.

What is the role of the food bank in your partnership?
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank provides about 80% of our food at low cost. 

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).

Outcomes

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! We think so. There are many people in need of this program.