Many food Rx programs couple with food pharmacies, sometimes also called a "food farmacy" to store and dispense healthy food products as part of a Food is Medicine (FiM) intervention. While some of these spaces are actually state-licensed pharmacies, others are located within health care clinics or hospitals but use the term “food pharmacy” as a description of the space’s
purpose and function.
As explained by Dr. Nicole White, PharmD, "a pharmacy is a place where medications are prepared and dispensed. As medical practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of food in human health and well-being, a “food is medicine” movement is growing." Illustrating that if food is medicine, then a food pharmacy is a place where food prescriptions can be prepared and dispensed. ("Produce Prescriptions, Food Pharmacies, and the Potential Effect on Food Choice, Pharmacy Review)
Because there is an evidence-based link between healthy food access and diet-related chronic diseases, food pharmacies are often designed to address improved access to healthy foods, especially in rural communities and areas with high food and nutrition insecurity. Successful models are a wellspring to increasing the healthful offerings in these desert areas.
In addition to its dispensing role, a pharmacy is also a place where a patient can receive education about their medications, their conditions and how medicine treats their condition. Many food pharmacies provide similar education with an emphasis on the health impact of food. Resources like meal plans, recipes, and cooking classes are used to help patients gain familiarity and skill in preparing the healthy foods the pharmacy dispenses. Many food pharmacies are staffed with an interprofessional care team (which may include a nurse, pharmacist, dietician, and/or health coach) to provide disease management education and behavior-change support.
The Geisinger Fresh Food Farmacy is a published example of a program that includes both produce prescriptions and a food pharmacy. The program has demonstrated positive clinical and financial outcomes, including a 2.1% average drop in participant HbA1c levels as well as improvements in cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure in just 18 months. These improvements translated to an 80% reduction in health care costs as analyzed using claims data for those
participants who were insured by Geisinger Health Plan.
"Food pharmacies can increase the accessibility of healthy foods as well as increase patient knowledge about food and health and skill in preparing healthy meals."
- Nicole D. White, PharmD, CDE, NBC-HWC, DipACLM, Pharmacy Review
"You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." | Psalm 65:10-11
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* Please note, we do not provide responses to personal medical concerns. For specific, personalized medical advice we encourage you to contact your physician.