Fox Hospital to launch 'Farmacy' grocer in Sidney

Julie Lews | The Daily Star Laura Lampe, coordinator of volunteers and events, left and Sarah Buttice, director of education and employee wellness at A. O. Fox Memorial Hospital, stock canned goods in the new Food Farmacy at the Tri-Town campus of Bassett Healthcare in Sidney on Friday.

A.O. Fox Hospital's Tri-Town campus in Sidney will unveil its new “Farmacy” prescription food program Monday, Jan. 6, at noon with a free public ceremony. 

Similar to how people get prescription medications from pharmacies from their providers, the Farmacy will be a prescription food location for patients and their families in need, hospital spokeswoman Gabrielle Argo said. The hospital was awarded a $10,000 grant from the MultiPlan Rural Health Grant Program in late August to help launch the program.

At the end of 2018, Fox decided to make food insecurity once of its community health needs priorities for 2019, Argo said. Planning for the project started at the start of 2019, she said. 

The program will be piloted from Sidney Primary Care, which is where people will get their prescriptions, Argo said. The Food Farmacy facility is located at A.O. Fox Hospital’s Tri-Town Campus in Sidney at 43 Pearl St. W. If necessary, transport will be provided for people who may not have the means to get from Sidney Primary Care to the Tri-Town Campus, Argo said. 

Eligible patients will receive food vouchers from their providers for healthy perishable and non-perishable food. Eligibility is determined by "key social determinants or diagnoses that place patients at risk for food insecurity," according to a media release from A.O. Fox Hospital.

These include diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, depression, addiction, or they may qualify after going through a food insecurity screening as determined by a primary care provider, Argo said.

The hospital is working with a number of food pantries and grocery stores to obtain food, Argo said. These include Price Chopper, Great American, Hannaford and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, she said. 

Nationwide nonprofit hunger relief organization Feeding America estimates that more than 8,400 people in Delaware County suffer from hunger, according to the release. More than 1,800 of those struggling are children. In Chenango County, more than 19% of children experience hunger every day, according to the release. Fox’s program aims to decrease area food insecurity by 25% and increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications by 25%, according to the release.

"I think that the numbers speak for themselves, those that we have recorded in Delaware County alone, and it really should be the responsibility of our health care providers because food insecurity is a health care issue," Argo said. "It's getting back to this basic medicine and keeping people healthy, and a balanced and well-accessible diet is absolutely the foundation of that."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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