The Yale Daily News, the nation’s oldest college daily newsletter recently featured an article on Fresh Advantage and their work with Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC). “Food for Thought” discusses the work of Marydale Debor, Chef Ann Gallagher, and Francine Blinten with the vulnerable populations served by CMHC.
On October 14, Fresh Advantage’s Managing Director Marydale DeBor, partner Chef Anne Gallagher, and Fresh Advantage affiliate nutritionist Francine Blinten enjoyed “Tea” (a longstanding Yale tradition) with the next crop of eager healthy-food champions on campus at Pierson College. This Fresh Advantage trio was delighted to be the first special guests in the Yale Sustainable Food Program’s 2015–16 speaker series “Women of Food.” The afternoon’s theme was “Women Addressing Food in Healthcare.”
“Nonprofit hospitals, which make up about 60 percent of American hospitals, have historically justified their tax exemptions from federal and state government by offering charitable services in communities where they operate. Community health clinics and free and discounted care for poor patients have been among their tactics. But most nonprofit hospitals have not been required to report in detail exactly what they are doing to help people in need. Measures to prevent disease have not been required. Many hospitals have aggressively collected overdue payments from low-income patients, a practice that is discordant with being deemed charities.
Food insecurity is increasing in the United States, and—not surprisingly—evidence shows that hunger should be considered as a health issue. Researchers have documented that economically vulnerable patients must sometimes choose between buying food and buying medication, and low-income individuals with diabetes have higher rates of hospital admissions for hypoglycemia at the end of the month when they are running out of food.
We were pleased to see this report from the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of the Harvard Law School. Food Is Medicine: Opportunities in Public and Private Health Care for Supporting Nutritional Counseling and Medically Tailored, Home-Delivered Meals discusses the significance of nutrition for patients with acute and chronic illnesses. The report also offers suggestions for how providers of medically tailored nutrition intervention services can work with public and private insurance systems. The authors note that “people with acute and chronic illnesses often have difficulty obtaining and preparing adequate food. Malnourished patients are twice as likely to be readmitted to a hospital within 15 days of discharge and have a much higher risk of death than patients who are well-nourished.”
Feeding America reports that 30 percent of seniors who rely on local food pantries say they sometimes must choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. As the infographic shows, older Americans without enough food to eat are at higher risk of developing serious health issues, including heart disease.
By Linda Shiue
originally posted in http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/medical_awareness_nutrition
July 30, 2013
While some medical students and doctors are becoming more savvy about nutrition, health, and cooking, the options for patients can still be generally summed up with the dismissive phrase “hospital food.” It’s not just the unpalatable Jell-O cups; nutrition is often ignored, too.
At the well-regarded academic medical center where I trained, my postpartum lunch tray included a plastic-wrapped, highly processed PB&J sandwich. And this type of offering is the norm. Vending machines in hospitals sell soda and candy, just as they do anywhere else, while hospitals that ban fast-food chains make headlines.
Over the past few years, however, a few hospitals have overhauled their food services to address both nutrition and taste. One of those is New Milford Hospital in Connecticut, which adopted a seasonal, plant-based menu (think portobello burgers and quinoa as entrées). The hospital also developed a program called Plow to Plate, connecting local farmers and fishermen with hospitals, physicians, chefs, and community members.
How they can help fix our health and food systems
At the National Farmers Union convention this spring, a roomful of farmers listened attentively to Marydale DeBor, who was pitching a new idea.
“I am looking for you to be doctors to the world,” she said. A board member of the New England Farmers Union and delegate to the convention, DeBor has a vision for food’s role in health care: “Food is Primary Care.” It’s the tagline for her consulting company, Fresh Advantage (www.freshadvantage.com), which works with institutions nationwide to create health-driven and mission-aligned food service operations.
Indeed, good nutrition can help address many of our nation’s health challenges. A root cause of our poor health is a food system gone wrong: ubiquitous processed food laden with excess salt, sugar and fat, along with inadequate access to healthy food for many. Poor diet contributes to public health problems of obesity and related chronic diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
We were glad to see this article in The Blade (In Toledo, hunger is a health issue) describing ProMedica’s efforts to address hunger issues—“food insecurity”—in Ohio. Although plenty of effort is correctly devoted to obesity in America, hunger and malnutrition are pervasive problems that profoundly affect health. In particular, the incidence of hunger among the elderly is on the rise. This issue is a long-standing concern at Fresh Advantage.
VIDEO & PODCAST LIBRARY
Recovery is Cooking
From Connecticut Mental Health Center
Plow to Plate
Before Fresh Advantage, Marydale co-founded Plow to Plate. Hear about their successes on All Things Connecticut
Prescribing Food, Part 1: Making Hospitals Healthier
From Heritage Radio Network
Women Addressing Food In Healthcare
From the Yale Sustainable Food Project Podcast