The Philadelphia Food Access Initiative


fresh produce

When it comes to our health and wellness, there is an extremely large involvement of the community in the health outcomes of the people that inhabit it. Part of being a member of a community means that we are entitled to live a healthy life and have access to the resources required to improve our well-being in any scenario. However, in many cases, there is a lack of access to these resources and significant barriers lead to health disparities throughout the entire community.

If there is perceived failure of community health and wellness initiatives, then key stakeholders in the health and wellness aspects of the community can step in and guide the community in the right direction. These key stakeholders often possess the expertise and the resources that it takes to get community back on track.

In the community of West Philadelphia, a partnership has been forged between multiple different stakeholders in an effort to completely change the landscape of the community’s health and wellness altogether. The Philadelphia Department of Health has joined forces with the Lankenau Medical Center and a non-profit organization known as The Food Trust to develop a pilot program that provides community members with access to fresh food. With the provision of Philly Food Bucks, the three members of the partnership are doing something that has never been done before. For the first time, a community’s healthcare system will procure Philly Food Bucks for the people and give out the notes to its patients.

One of the biggest problems in improving health and wellness for the community is access to fresh food. So many chronic conditions along with obesity and other health complications come about as a result of improper dieting. With foods that are harmful to our health lining the shelves in areas where socioeconomic status is low overall, it is no wonder that we see preventable chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer occurring at such a rapid rate.

While this partnership is breaking ground in a whole new area of health and wellness, other communities should be taking note of this pilot program’s structure. With more initiatives like this, we can see significant turnaround in this community’s health and wellness as well as other communities across the country. Many other cities are implementing similar programs and the number should continue to rise.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Rob Bertholf

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