Farm at Montgomery County hospital helps feed patients facing food insecurity

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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"We are saving lives," said Maureen Krouse. "Food is medicine. Food impacts every chronic disease that there is. Food impacts your health and just your well-being."

WYNNEWOOD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County hospital is helping change the lives of its patients beyond their stay by helping them change their diets.

Behind Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood is the Deaver Wellness Farm. For farmer Breah Banks, the reward for keeping up the garden is knowing the impact it is having on the community.

"When they notice something new that they haven't seen before like 'oh that's how celery grows? This what squash looks like?' I love those kind of questions and seeing people make connections that way to their food," said Banks.

Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center is one of the few hospitals in the entire country with its own farm, which sits on fenced-in plot of land behind the emergency room. It used to be a parking lot until April 2016 when the first plant went in the ground.

"Since then, we have raised I believe close to 58,000 pounds of food," said Maureen Krouse, who manages community health and outreach for the hospital.

She says the health system saw a few benefits to having its own garden. One, it could be an educational tool. The hospital offers farm-based educational opportunity to school aged children.

"Beans offer nitrogen and feed the soil for the corn," said Banks, explaining which plants go where.

Two, the food could help patients.

"We are saving lives," said Krouse. "Food is medicine. Food impacts every chronic disease that there is. Food impacts your health and just your well-being."

A lot of the food ends up going directly to patient's homes. Every week the staff packs 40 bags of fresh vegetables that are hand-delivered to patients who are experiencing food insecurity.

"To see the faces of the patients who come out with a bag of food and their first question is: 'It's for me? I can bring it home, and there's no cost involved?' Right there, you just know how much of an impact you had," said Krouse.