‘Choose Health’ recognized for innovation
For finding a way to get healthy food to the people who need it most, Lakewood Health System (LHS) Staples is one of the recipients of the 2015 Bush Prize for Community Innovation, which awarded them $500,000 to continue their Choose Health program and expand it to another level.
Lakewood is getting the recognition and is implementing the program but it is actually a collaboration of many groups that are increasing access to local food and growing the food economy of the region.
The problem of food insecurity was identified as a serious issue through a LHS assessment. Lack of healthy food was leading to health problems in segments of the population. The idea of Choose Health began in 2012 with a grant from Hunger Free Minnesota, and several partners were brought on to help.
Choose Health starts with Lakewood’s physicians who identify patients who may be suffering from lack of food and they simply ask if they agree with the following statements:
1. Within the past 12 months were you worried whether your food would run out before you got money to buy more.
2. Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.
If the answer is yes, the physicians can refer the patient to the Choose Health team to get them started. The patients who qualify are able to pick up a large basket of locally grown fruits and vegetables at the Lakewood Farmers Market, as part of the Community Supported Agriculture