A.O. Fox Hospital Awarded $10,000 Grant to Launch Food "Farmacy" Program

Oneonta – A.O. Fox Hospital, part of Bassett Healthcare Network, has been awarded $10,000 by the MultiPlan Rural Health Grant Program to help launch a food “farmacy” based at its Tri-Town Campus in Sidney.

The prescription food location, set to open in January 2020, will provide emergency food, education, and navigation services to patients and their families in need. A.O. Fox Hospital will partner with local businesses including Price Chopper, Great American, Hannaford, Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, Pathfinder Mobile Grocery, and local farms and food pantries to offer fresh produce and healthy non-perishable goods. In addition, Fox will work in cooperation with SUNY Oneonta’s Dietetics program to offer real-world experience to nutrition students.

The food bank will operate on an outpatient basis; visitors will receive vouchers for food prescribed by their primary care providers. Clinicians will create referrals based on key social determinants or diagnoses that place patients at risk for food insecurity, such as:

  • The diagnosis of a chronic disease like diabetes, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Low household income
  • Addiction
  • Behavioral health issues

Patients who are given referrals will receive education and resources from a care team and have the opportunity to obtain groceries based on their medical conditions and household needs, and connections to outside resources that provide lifestyle tools.

“This project is truly a unified community effort,” says Sarah Buttice, MPH, director of Education and Employee Wellness at A.O. Fox Hospital. “Addressing food insecurity in our communities is an ongoing priority of Fox Hospital’s and we are proud to partner with local businesses to launch this amazing program. Our goals, based on projected patient referrals, are to decrease area food insecurity by 25 percent and increase SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications by 25 percent.”

In Delaware County, it is estimated that more than 8,400 people suffer from hunger; more than 1,800 of those struggling are children. In Chenango County, 19.6 percent of children experience hunger every day, which equates to roughly 2,060. Food insecurity has negative long-term effects on an individual’s health, placing them at greater risk for serious health conditions, especially if they have already been diagnosed with a chronic condition. In children, hunger can lead to growth impairment, poor academic performance, behavioral issues, sickness, social disorders, and more.

“Working to alleviate hunger in our communities is absolutely vital to the health of our population,” says Jeff Joyner, president of A.O. Fox Hospital. “Good food is good medicine, plain and simple. When folks do not have access to basic needs like food, housing, and other resources, their whole world is fragile. Fox’s Tri-Town Campus is a perfect location and will offer a centralized food source to the tri-county area. We extend our sincere gratitude to the local businesses who have agreed to partner with us, and we would also like to thank MultiPlan for their generosity and faith in our program.”