Partnership aims to improve health through food boxes, lifestyle coaching

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The Food Bank Council of Michigan is teaming up with South Michigan Food Bank and Grace Health to address food insecurity and encourage healthy lifestyles with the launch of the Grace Health Fresh Food Pharmacy in Battle Creek.

Grace Health, a federally qualified health center, serves over 30,000 underserved patients in Calhoun County and surrounding areas.

Peter Vogel Courtesy South Michigan Food Bank

“We are honored to partner with Grace Health to improve the health and well-being of those in need in the Battle Creek community,” said Peter Vogel, CEO of the South Michigan Food Bank. “We know that we can demonstrate great impact by working together.”

Underwritten by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, this six-month pilot program “prescribes” home-delivered healthy food boxes for Grace Health patients every two weeks. In addition, the program offers healthy lifestyle coaching, check-ins and support for cooking and eating healthy foods.

Eligible patients include those who manage a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, that can improve with a healthy diet. They also must have difficulty accessing healthy food and have the ability and interest to cook fresh foods and attend coaching sessions.

Dawn Opel Courtesy Food Bank Council of Michigan

“The Grace Health Fresh Food Pharmacy continues the great work of our food banks, in partnership with their community’s health care organizations, to address food security as a social determinant of health,” said Dawn Opel, director of research and strategic initiatives and general counsel for the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Working with our entire network, we seek to sustainably implement this food box prescription model in health care settings across the state.”

Enrollment begins later this month with a fresh food mobile distribution kickoff event funded by the Consumers Energy Foundation at Grace Health, 181 W. Emmett St. in Battle Creek, from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday.

The mobile food distribution program is available to anyone in the greater Battle Creek community in need of food. Those interested in enrolling can contact Grace Health at (269) 965-8866 to be connected with a program intake coordinator.

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