It was good to hear the recent announcement that the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center in Charleston is partnering with Charleston Clinic to implement a new program called “Food as Medicine,” which will provide free garden-fresh produce to eligible Charleston residents weekly to promote better health.
“The purpose of the program is to get fresh produce into the hands of those who need it most,” said Catherine Moring, executive director of the Kennedy Wellness Center. “Food can truly be our greatest form of medicine or a slow form of poison.”
The center, which for several years has grown a fruit and vegetable garden, will utilize a portion of this year’s summer and fall harvests for the benefit of participants in the new program.
Eligibility criteria is flexible. Prospects must have an annual household income of less than $40,000, an individual income of less than $20,000, or have two or more chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, cancer, pain and/or heart disease.
Program participants will be recruited through Charleston Clinic, Moring said, noting that “health care providers will give their patients food prescriptions to be filled at the garden as well as through other community groups and organizations.”
Each person in the program will be assigned a day and time each week to come to the Wellness Garden, located at 460 S. Panola St. They will be given a large brown paper bag and can pick whatever they want until the bag is full. Availability will vary.
The summertime offerings will include assorted peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, peppers and okra. In the fall, produce such as pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, assorted beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, spinach and kale will be available. In addition to food, participants will receive “a healthy, delicious, easy and affordable recipe of the week,” said Moring.
There is no cost to join the program. Interested persons may contact the Wellness Center at 662-625-7214. Charleston Clinic patients may ask their provider for a food prescription at their next visit.
We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Getting people to eat healthier foods and cook healthier meals will pay dividends down the road.
The Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of Western medicine, believed that nutritious food is the basis for good health. He recognized nearly 2,500 years ago that a good diet can serve as a type of enriching medicine for the body.
One of the quotes frequently attributed to him is, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
No one should interpret that to mean that food is an acceptable substitute for prescription medications. On the other hand, perhaps we would require fewer pills and potions if we simply ate better.