There’s a new way for Northeast Ohio food deserts to access healthy affordable food

The Food for Life Market at UH Portage Medical Center provides a week's worth of healthy food...
The Food for Life Market at UH Portage Medical Center provides a week's worth of healthy food for patients.(University Hospitals)
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 1:53 PM EDT
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PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A new program through University Hospitals is helping out food deserts across Northeast Ohio.

Inside University Hospitals Portage County Medical Center lies what is called a “Food for Life Food Market.”

“I had open-heart surgery. He has back surgery. He had prostate surgery. And things were just really tight,” said Sandra Grandee, who uses the market with her husband Terry.

One of the Grandees’ doctors told them about this new free food market, and how it would save them money and help them get their health back on track.

“The ‘Food for Life Program’ is one of University Hospitals’ strategic programs to address food insecurity,” said Anne Leach, the director of clinical and community nutrition at University Hospitals. “The patients come in, they sit down for an appointment and we screen them for food insecurity. If they screen positive for one of the questions we ask about food then their provider will give them a referral to come to the food for life market. The referral is good for the patient to visit one time a month up to six months.”

The food markets are staffed with registered dietitians. They walk people through their food choices. The market has fresh produce, which means healthier options for people.

“I think we’re eating better. I need to eat less. Sometimes I think when funds are really low you have a tendency to choose food that really is not that good for you but they’re cheaper,” said Grandee.

The market is funded through University Hospitals and donations from the community. Patients however do need a referral to get into the program from a University Hospitals doctor.

“We’ve never been on welfare. We’ve never been, but this is something that’s available to us,” said Grandee,

The Grandee’s are among 1,000 lives and counting being changed by this program.

“We’re blessed in so many ways. I don’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of it,” said Grandee.

This project is expanding fast. There are two other “Food for Life Markets” in Cleveland. On top of that, University Hospitals will be opening up their fourth one at their Conneaut Medical Center in April.

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