This fall, Landmark Health (Landmark), in partnership with Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino (CAP-SB), launched the “Food Farmacy” pilot program. This diabetes management program was inspired by Geisinger Health Systems Food Farmacy in Pennsylvania. The program is designed to:
- address food insecurity,
- provide fresh produce, and
- educate patients on lifestyle approaches to better manage their disease.
The Landmark Food Farmacy provides diabetic education and enough food for a patient’s entire household to cook ten or more healthy meals per week. A starter pack is given to each participant, consisting of a crockpot, a copy of The Full Plate Diet Book, informational handouts and weekly recipe suggestions. Following the weekly diabetes education classes and live food demonstrations using the week’s produce, patients receive a food box filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, oatmeal and other grains, nuts, and seasonings.
Geisinger Health Systems’ program showed a 2-point reduction in HbA1c in the first year, resulting in improved patient health and lower health plan costs. Landmark participants’ labs were drawn at the beginning of the class and will be redrawn at various integrals over the 6-month tracking period to show progress and success.
Kimberly Slater, Registered Dietician and class educator for this Inland Empire program, says the Food Farmacy is already making an impact on these Landmark Health patients who typically suffer from multiple chronic conditions in addition to diabetes.
“I’m able to see these patients come back week after week, sharing how they feel better. They are stabilizing their blood sugars and requiring less medication. They have more energy, are losing weight, and experimenting with new recipes,” Slater said.
Patients have appreciated the program’s practical tips and are learning how their bodies and minds are affected by what they eat and how they exercise. The education has helped patients better understand diabetes and the role they play in managing their health. Fletcher Gibson, Food Farmacy participant, has made the decision to become a vegetarian after learning more about fruits and vegetables in the first several sessions. Some participants are most grateful for the food boxes because they are on fixed incomes. For these patients, the program makes eating healthy possible.
Slater believes one of the biggest benefits of this program is that participants inspire each other through ideas, recipes, and stories. Landmark’s vision, “We will transform health care by dramatically improving the quality of lives in our communities,” is shown in the Food Farmacy program. Not only are patients experiencing improved health and taking ownership of their well-being, but their families and communities are positively affected as well. “I am truly inspired to see how our patients are changing their lives and the lives of those around them,” said Slater.
One Food Farmacy participant, Consepcion Valenzuela, said, “The program has shown me how to eat healthier for not only me, but also my family. I feel happier, with more energy.” Other participants reported more energy, lower stress levels, feeling healthier, weight loss, better moods and less hunger.
Donna Pruett, Food Farmacy participant said, “The program is awesome, energetic, nonjudgmental, and the staff is great! They are so friendly, funny, and make you want to keep coming back.”
We look forward to evaluating the progress and results of this Food Farmacy pilot and continuing to offer robust care to our Landmark patients through this and similar programs. To see if you or a loved one is eligible for the Landmark program, visit our How It Works page or contact your health insurance plan.
Kimberly Slater is the registered dietitian for the Landmark Inland Empire market. She earned her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Loma Linda University and has a specialized background in community wellness programs and lifestyle medicine. Many of her Landmark colleagues know her for her energy and enthusiasm and her unofficial title as “The Bean Lady.”