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“Food pharmacies” offer a prescription for healthy eating

We've all heard the old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." But getting those fresh apples and veggies isn't always that easy -- especially for people living in low-income areas. In an effort to give patients better access to food and promote healthy eating, "food pharmacies" are popping up in a number of clinics and hospitals across the country.

A recent Peninsula Press piece described how these on-site pantries are stocked with fresh produce, whole grains, dairy products and lean meats:

In San Mateo County [Calif.], Samaritan House has already served over a million meals every year for their low-income clients, but now their diabetic patients in both the Redwood City and San Mateo clinic have a steady supply of weekly healthy food they can rely on.

Decorated with brightly colored murals of fresh produce painted by local middle school students, the Redwood City clinic's room is equipped with two industrial-sized refrigerators that store chicken, eggs, dairy and fresh produce like portobello mushrooms and onions. Along the perimeter, tall shelves display neat stacks of brown rice, quinoa, canned tuna and other healthy options.

The story goes on to highlight the benefits of these food pharmacies, which also often offer healthy-cooking classes: Patients are losing weight, controlling their sugars, and lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure. And Stanford nutrition researcher  Christopher Gardner, PhD, also weighs in on getting doctors on board. "Doctors themselves are an important target population in all of this," he says. "We want them to practice what they are then able to preach."

Previously: Nutrition expert Christopher Gardner discusses ways to encourage healthy eatingReimagining nutrition education: Doctor-chefs teach Stanford medical students how to cook, and Getting up steam to eat better: Stanford scientists find what works
Photo via StanfordMedicineStaff

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