The Food as Medicine Project looks to integrate healing and health with a community-centered framework in mind that tackles chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, cancers, obesity, etc. using a number of different ways. One way is by collaborating with William-Jenkins Lifelong Health Center doctors and creating an ongoing, back-and-forth dialogue around what we can do as individuals and as neighbors to improve the state of our city’s most disadvantaged, immuno-compromised communities. Resident doctors spend a month getting to know the way Urban Tilth functions like helping out and engaging with people at the free farm stand, or helping out with our Farm to Table CSA pack days. Doctors also visit and collaborate with our garden educators at both Richmond High and Verde Elementary to develop their curriculum on nutrition, chronic illnesses, soil health, and more. At the end of their 4-week rotation, they hold a community health forum with our staff, around chronic inflammation, anti-inflammatory diets, and foods to avoid that lead to illnesses.
On top of expanding our health education and doctor-community relations, our Farm to Table CSA crew delivers more than 30 Veggie Rx bags a week to Lifelong Health Center for patients in their Healthy Eating Cooking group or their Prenatal Care group. By creating a pipeline between patients who need a nutritious diets and Urban Tilth’s deliveries of healthy, local, chemical-free produce, it creates the groundwork for what could be a more just, disease-preventing form of community healing and health.
Another aspect of the Food as Medicine project is the push to get Veggie RX boxes as part of the Contra Costa Health Plan through CalAIMS (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal) Community Supports Program. They aim to start funding in June and as it stands, only covers patients suffering from diabetes but we hope it expands to cover more diseases and help families prevent early on people’s lives rather than when it gets really bad.
We are ready to transform care to be life-affirming, quality, and accessible for communities who are highest at risk of premature deaths, health issues, and systemic neglect. Hospitals have many patients suffering from diseases that could be prevented, and we are imagining a world where they are. To learn more about the work of the Veggie RX programs work, please click here!