food as medicine Tompkins, prescribing fresh farm food at health clinics in New York

Food as Medicine Tompkins

This produce prescription program empowers participants to make behavioral changes that support healthy living and alleviate pain and healthcare costs.  After joining remote learning classes and discussions, participants receive fresh organic farm food every week from June-mid November, continue to attend virtual cooking classes focused on eating a variety of seasonal produce, and communicate with staff about staying motivated and making healthy recipes. 

Eligible participants are referred to the program by our healthcare partners to treat diet-related illnesses including diabetes, pre-diabetes and hypertension.  At this time, we are enrolling patients on Medicaid and patients who are SNAP or WIC eligible. 

Our 2021 program begins in June and we expect to serve at least 45 patients from Cayuga Medical Center and Ithaca Free Clinic. 

If you are a healthcare partner and would like to refer patients to our program, please email Baz Perry at ebs20@cornell.edu.

Evaluation

In addition to nutritional education and food access, our program conducts participatory research that gathers feedback from patients about whether access to produce and our cooking classes and behavioral support is improving their health. The research that we collect is evaluated by professionals within Cayuga Health Partners and the Master of Public Health program at Cornell University in order to monitor health and program outcomes and constantly improve our services for participants.

The program started in 2018 with a pilot group of 8 members, who saw beneficial results in their BMI, blood pressure and food security status. In 2019, 44 people completed the program and in 2020, 75 local individuals were supported on their journey to better health.

With their insights, we have 

  1. added delivery options
  2. added voucher booklets to spend at local farmers markets for those who want to shop independently from a CSA share
  3. shifted our education to focus more on staying motivated, using a Facebook support group, classes on motivational theory, and one-on-one health coaching
  4. focused our cooking classes, recipes, and tips on preparing lesser known vegetables, highlighting how every edible plant can taste amazing when fresh and prepared appropriately

Testimonials

"It is an incredible program... My husband and I both have type 2 diabetes and this has helped both of us a lot. His A1C has dropped from 6.8 to 5.9, and I feel better.  Being creative in the kitchen was like therapy for my depression, good for my soul as well as for my body.  I am very grateful for this program and would recommend it to anyone who would benefit from it."

"My Mom was not eating vegetables at all, now it's there in her daily diet, just trying new things."

"I have become more adventurous in the kitchen and have rediscovered a love of cooking that has gotten lost over the years... I have become more organized in terms of storing produce... and also in planning meals in advance and shopping for other ingredients. Also, I began buying more organic foods, such as bread, and trying to make my diet altogether healthier."

Contact

Baz Perry
Agriculture and Food Systems Team Leader
ebs20@cornell.edu
(607) 272-2292 ext. 131

Last updated July 19, 2021