Celebrating National Nutrition Month


Date: March 10, 2023
Categories: Health Focused

Food Access for Our Community
Krystal D. Moyers, M.Ed., CHES
Augusta Health Community Outreach and Partnerships

At Augusta Health, we believe healthcare is more than just treating people when they are sick. We are committed to improving the health of the community and helping people live happier and healthier lives. As a nonprofit healthcare organization, we offer many community benefit programs and activities aimed to improve the broader health of our communities.

When putting community outreach programming in place in our community, our guiding light is our Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). In our last three CHNA cycles, Nutrition has been identified as a top priority area of health concern for our community. The percentage of those who report being food insecure in our area has increased from 9.3% in 2016 to 20.8% in 2022. Because of this, our nutrition-related community outreach programming is to increase education about and access to healthy foods.

TheAMI Farm at Augusta Healthis a partnership between Allegheny Mountain Institute and Augusta Health to cultivate 1.25 acres of farmland on Augusta Health’s campus using sustainable agriculture practices. We are in the sixth year of the farm partnership on our hospital campus, and this transformational project is a key produce supplier for many of our programs addressing food insecurity. On an average basis, the farm produces 30,000 pounds of food annually. Food access initiatives around the farm project include:

  • Food Farmacy
  • Food Pantry
  • Crops to Community
  • Home Health and Hospice Food Bags
  • Get Fresh
  • Latino Food Access Initiative

Our Food Farmacy is a 12-week physician referral prescription produce program, and each week class consists of nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and tastings, and shopping for fresh produce from a farm stand. The patients referred into the program have a chronic disease diagnosis of pre-diabetes, diabetes, cancer, or heart disease so clinical outcomes are tracked throughout the 12 weeks, as well as a 6-month follow-up.

The Augusta Health Food Pantry is designed to increase access to patients who are food insecure and have a chronic disease diagnosis. We currently have 22 referring clinics with six physical clinic pantry locations. 2,500 bags of food were given out in 2022, and with the ending of SNAP Emergency Benefits in February 2023 these numbers continue to increase.

Through our Crops to Community Fresh Food Box program, a total of 50 boxes containing produce, meat, and eggs are delivered bi-weekly to patients who are identified as food insecure. The food box recipients are identified and referred by our Population Health Case Managers. On delivery days, food is brought to the hospital by local farmers, and then aggregated and packed into boxes by the Community Outreach and Partnerships team. Recipes are put into the boxes along with the food, then the boxes are loaded into volunteers’ vehicles, and delivered to patient’s doorsteps. In 2022, 14,000 pounds of meat, eggs, and vegetables were given out.

Home Health & Hospice Food Bagsare bags of fresh produce that are home-delivered to patients by nurses, specifically designed to combat nutrient insecurity. This program allows us to partner with our own nurses, to both identify patients but also do deliveries to individuals whom they are already doing home visits. It is an extension of the Crops to Community program, but to a specific patient population. We deliver 20 bags per week.

Get Freshtargets elementary school students and consists of nutrition education, fresh food tastings, field trips to local farms, cooking lessons, and after-school nutrition programming for the entire family.

In the afterschool portion of this program, parents learn to cook a recipe and prepare the main course of the meal, while at the same time, the kids are working on a part of the dinner like a side salad or a healthier dessert. And then everyone comes together to eat. This is very powerful to watch because many of the individuals in this program do not cook dinner or sit down to eat together on a regular basis.

Augusta Health takes its role as a community-based healthcare system seriously, and our community outreach programs are intentionally designed to take healthcare into the community so that all our area residents have equitable access to services and resources and are done in partnership with local organizations such as Allegheny Mountain Institute, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and many other valuable community partners.

For more information, please visit the website below:

Augusta Health Community Outreach and Partnerships