WYNNEWOOD, Pa. - Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is a key to good health, but getting access to them, and even preparing them, is a challenge for many seniors.
Now, there's a local hospital using a real "farm to table" approach.
It's been a bountiful summer for the Deaver Wellness Farm at Lankenau Hospital.
The farm, inspired by former first lady Michelle Obama's White House garden, is aimed at connecting patients with fresh produce.
"Many of our patients have chronic diseases, like diabetes, or cardiovascular disease," said Chinwe Onyekere, Lankenau Hospital Associate Administrator.
Onyekere says better nutrition should improve those conditions.
But how do you get it from the field to patient tables?
"We thought we would bring the produce right into the doctor's office," said Onyekere.
Adults coming to Lankenau's internal medicine practice get the latest harvest, but the hospital does more than just give them vegetables.
"We use the waiting room as an opportunity to teach how to prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables," said Onyekere.
While awaiting appointments, patients see and taste recipes for the new foods.
"Once they try it and like it, they're excited to try it again. And maybe the next time they go food shopping, they'll purchase these healthy vegetables,' said Onyekere.
This produce pipeline is especially important for seniors with mobility or transportation issues who can't get to markets.
It also serves as a research database to see how improving nutrition improves health.
"We hope to see that we have a reduction in diabetes, and a reduction in hypertension," said Onyekere.
In less than 2 years, over 800 patients have received more than 7,000 pounds of food. And Lankenau does it year-round - stopping for just one month last winter.
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