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Healthwatch 16: Food Farmacy provides healthy options for diabetics

A food bank in Lycoming County wants to help folks facing food insecurity by offering healthy eating choices.

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. — Ronald Sandifer and Krysten Johnstonbaugh are here at the Fresh Food Farmacy at the New love Center in Jersey Shore. They are selecting healthy food options to take home and eat.

"We are starting to know what to get, and we just love it and enjoy coming here," Johnstonbaugh said.

"This is to give folks who are food insecure an opportunity to have good healthy food," said Alice Fox, president of the New Love Center.

The Fresh Food Farmacy is a partnership between Geisinger and the New Love Center. This program allows families to come in and choose a number of healthy food options for meals.

"If we can help the patient and their entire household eat better, then they are able to make, so more substantial lifestyle changes," said David Bellamo, a Geisinger health coach.

The program is for folks who have Type 2 diabetes and meet the food insecurity qualifications to enroll. The families are assigned a health coach who works with them on healthy eating and daily living habits. So far, they have made fantastic progress.

"We have learned to cut down on the sugary soft drinks. We have switched over to healthier meals, and try to prepare our meals a lot better, and trying to avoid junk food," Ronald Sandifer said.

"Many of them have embraced reading labels, taking up exercise, or reacquainted themselves with exercise. They have taken to cooking better and trying new foods," Bellamo said.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes and face food insecurity, you should talk to your primary care physician about getting involved.

"I screen the patients to see if they meet all the criteria, and if that happens, then we talk and see if the program is of interest," Bellamo added.

Patients make an appointment to come to the New Love Center and shop every month. The food is completely free.

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