Many medical issues have symptoms that can be managed or preventative with exercise and nutritional care, but access to things like fresh fruits and vegetables or healthy protein can be challenging for certain populations. An experiment in San Francisco called a "food pharmacy" has had amazing results.
The Silver Avenue Family Health Center has expanded a traditional food pantry into a place where patients struggling with high blood pressure and diabetes can discuss nutrition, recipes, and receive cooking demonstrations for improving their diet and health. Mother Jones reports that patients can access the food pharmacy with a referral, and that the program has been so successful, it will be expanding to four other primary care clinics in the coming year.
The program was based on another successful enterprise in Boston, called the Preventative Food Pantry and run by the Boston Medical Center. According to their website, this pantry welcomes patients with "cancer, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, food allergies and other chronic conditions," offering them a "prescription" to come by twice a month and pick up enough food for three or four days worth of meals.