Nutrition Initiatives

Supporting the health of our communities through nutrition programs and initiatives.

The Fresh Food Pharmacy program was developed in partnership with Grace Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The program provides food as medicine to clients with chronic health conditions, to manage their health. This program is a strategic initiative of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The funding for this program was obtained through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. This program uses a Food as Medicine approach in addressing the critical role that nutrition plays in both the prevention and management of chronic health conditions and overall health. It uses a “prescription” of healthy meal cooking, nutrition coaching and education, and food supplements to improve the health of those in the program. 

Patients at Grace Health were referred to the program based on certain criteria, and were provided six months of health coaching provided by staff at Grace Health, and supplements of fresh, healthy food provided by South Michigan Food Bank. Health metrics and behavior change data were captured before, during, and after the program, and used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Overall, patients improved their blood sugar (A1C) and increased their fruit and vegetable intake.

The first pilot launched in March of 2021. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a delivery model was used in which curated boxes of fresh food were delivered to patients. Using the findings of the first round, a second round was developed to learn more about the impact on patients and their health outcomes. It began enrolling it’s first patients in February of 2024. The current program opted for an in-house pantry model at Grace Health instead of a delivery model. The pantry model used in the current program gives participants the opportunity to choose their favorite healthy foods, allowing them to fit their food selections to their own preferences. It also allows for participants to get their food from the same place where they have medical appointments and nutrition coaching for the program. The results from this program will aid in informing considerations for programs like this in the future.

It introduced me to using more fresh vegetables which helped a lot. I have more energy… it was a variety of different foods but I’ve really grown to like them and love them. In fact, it’s at a point now that I prefer to cook my food from fresh.”

Healthcare partnerships: Jackson Center for Family Health

South Michigan Food Bank was awarded a grant from Feeding America funded by CVS to help enhance healthcare partnerships. The funding from this grant is used to support local healthcare partners in reducing food insecurity in the populations they serve, which is a significant contributing factor to overall health¹. South Michigan Food Bank aids healthcare partners like Jackson Center for Family Health in maintaining on-site food pantries to help patients experiencing food insecurity. 

South Michigan Food Bank aims to expand initiatives and programs with additional healthcare partners in the future.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a service that helps local seniors that live in certain areas where South Michigan Food Bank operates. South Michigan Food Bank includes fresh food supplements in addition to the CSFP foods provided by the USDA. Recipe and food information resources are included with each CSFP box distributed that are developed by SMFB staff.

Healthy Eating Research (H.E.R.) Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System

South Michigan Food Bank received a grant from the Partnership for a Healthier America to examine the nutritional value of the foods that we source and distribute. Sourcing nutritious foods at the food bank is a priority, and this project allowed us to gather information about the nutritional content of the many food items in our inventory.

Food Insecurity, Chronic Disease, and Health Among Working-Age Adults

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