$800,000 grant will focus on the prevention and management of chronic diseases by improving access to healthy affordable foods for more than 1,000 patients
(DURANGO, COLO.) –Mercy Hospital will expand its Roots of Health (ROH) Community Food Security Program and implement a new patient-facing produce prescription program this summer thanks to an $808,783 grant from CommonSpirit Health’s Mission and Ministry Fund. The new produce prescription program, which addresses food insecurity and dietary quality to improve health outcomes, will expand food access to 1,200 patients. The program focuses on the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, by providing patients with tools to access healthy affordable foods.
In 2020, the ROH Community Food Security Program launched serving 110 Mercy Hospital associates through a produce share program in partnership with the Good Food Collective. The 2022 grant from CommonSpirit Health will allow this program to expand and improve access to health foods for nearly 400 associates over three years.
Rural Coloradoans face many challenges such as distance from food providers, inadequate access to health care and an increasing cost of living. With the launch of the produce prescription plan, Mercy Hospital providers can give food vouchers to 1,200 eligible patients. Vouchers will be redeemable at area grocery stores and farmers markets.
“Centura Health’s collective focus is to care for the whole person in mind, body, and spirit to build healthier individuals, healthier families and healthier neighborhoods. The produce prescription program is one way we can help our community flourish, and we are grateful to be able to provide this resource to so many here in Durango,” said Patrick Sharp, CEO of Mercy Hospital.
This funding will also advance Mercy Hospital’s broader Community Health Implementation Plan (CHIP) goals by promoting the use and acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), and Double Up Food Bucks at area produce sites; increasing the number of affordable fresh produce access sites in the community; furthering the enrollment of eligible community members in SNAP, and increasing the use of local food within Centura Health programs.
“Using SNAP, WIC and Double Up Food Bucks at our local farmers’ markets and produce sites has historically been challenging for families reliant on these forms of payment,” said Father Augustine, Director of Missions and Ministries at Mercy Hospital. “This new grant looks to change that, promoting equal access to healthy foods for all community members, no matter how they are paying for it.”