INDIANAPOLIS — One in eight Hoosiers are food insecure according to Feedingamerica.org.
Eskenazi Health, in order to address food insecurity among its patients, has created a new market that will give patients access to healthy food. It’s called Fresh for You Market.
"Providing proper nutrition is just as important as providing other forms of medication," Seth Grant, the Director of Food and Nutrition at Eskenazi Health said.
According to Lori Dennison, Director of Dining and Community Feeding at Eskenazi Health, patients are screened for food insecurity when they visit.
"Our patients are screened for food insecurity in their clinical visits here on the main campus,” Dennison said. “When they do screen positive for being food insecure, they are given the opportunity to come out and shop here for free."
While it may sound strange that a doctor screens people for food insecurity, it is something that is practiced across the country.
Doctors ask patients two main questions.
- Within the past 12 months, were you worried whether your food would run out before you had money to buy more?
- Within the past 12 months, was there a situation when bought food, but it didn’t last and you didn’t have money to get more?
There are several other factors that go into a doctor making that decisions for details click here.
While this Fresh Market provides healthy foods to food insecure patients, it also works with minority-owned businesses. They provide a menu of food that people can come in and purchase.
"We do that once a month," Darryle Robinson, the Multi-Unit Retail Manager of Fresh for You Market said. "We find minority restaurants throughout the city to try and help and support them. We will bring them in we will collaborate with them collaborate for the menu and everything."
Sales help fund the pantry portion of the market.
"Our traditional grocery sales in this operation go back one hundred percent to support the voucher program we have for the pantry Hybrid," Seth Grant, Eskenazi Health Director of Food and Nutrition said.
According to Eskenazi Health, the nearest grocery store location for residents living near Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital is over a mile away making it difficult for those without transportation access, or those relying on public transportation, to acquire nutritious food. The hospital hopes to expand this model in the future to help more communities that are considered food deserts.
"We absolutely plan to expand this service into other Eskenazi Health centers, as well as the standard Eskenazi mental health centers,” Grant said. “We plan on doing it in kind of a unique way. We are hoping to put this into a mobile version.”
Once the mobile pantries are up and running, Eskenazi staff will park them weekly in areas that are considered food deserts. They also will provide nutrition education to community members in those areas who are food insecure.
The Fresh for You Market is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday – Friday, with lunch available until 2 p.m.