Mount Sinai Hospital
Program: Healthy Food & Community Change
Area of Work: Health
Grant Purpose: Powerfood
Mount Sinai Hospital sits on the border between East Harlem and the Upper East Side. Though the neighborhoods are adjacent, the diabetes and obesity rates are more than three times higher in East Harlem than on the Upper East Side, and the rate of avoidable diabetes hospitalizations is nearly eight times higher. Life expectancy is nine years shorter. Access to affordable, healthy food is one of the social determinants that underlie these health problems. Consequently, Mount Sinai created Powerfood, a pilot initiative for adult patients with poorly controlled diabetes and obese children seen in primary care clinics of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Powerfood, which was inspired by Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription model, provides a pathway for food-insecure patients.
Purpose: To support a pilot research study of a new program, Powerfood.
Powerfood is a pilot program aimed at addressing food insecurity and food access in primary care through the implementation of a food prescription program in collaboration with a number of community partners.
Prior to the development of Mount Sinai’s Powerfood program, the Illumination Fund had supported Wholesome Wave to create the first hospital-based Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, FVRx within New York City’s public hospital system. That original FVRx model used farmers markets as the produce provider, and did not have the food pantry component or year-round option. Working with Mount Sinai enabled Wholesome Wave and the partners to develop those components to enhance the strategy.
Mount Sinai screens patients for food insecurity and enrolls them in Powerfood.
- Patients who have trouble affording food are referred to New York Common Pantry for emergency food and other support services. New York Common Pantry also screens the patients for SNAP eligibility.
- Participants are also connected to Corbin Hill, a New York City nonprofit that provides subsidized farm shares consisting of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Corbin Hill delivers the farm share boxes to the hospital lobby so patients can pick them up. Through Powerfood, the patients receive six months of farm shares for free. Subsequently, patients who are enrolled in SNAP can use those benefits for ongoing farm shares.
In addition to conducting the study, the team has shared the model at conferences and symposia, including the New York Academy of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Population Health’s Population Health Summit, Pediatric Academic Societies, and the Society of General Internal Medicine.