Food as Medicine

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Cook County, Ill., IL

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About the Program

Category: Health (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

Cook County Health (CCH) has been a leader in identifying and addressing food insecurity for our patients and communities. Our work started in 2014 with a Food as Medicine summit that brought together CCH operational and clinical leadership, along with anti-hunger experts from community organizations and the regional food bank, to discuss opportunities for collaboration and partnership. That summit led to the piloting of a food insecurity screening tool for use with CCH primary care patients, training our health center staff to better understand and refer patients to community food and nutrition resources, and connecting patients with fresh produce supplied by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Today, all CCH community health centers host regular produce distributions for food insecure patients. CCH has also piloted several other initiatives including medically-tailored meals, farmers markets, and cooking/nutrition group education classes. With the support of ARPA funds awarded by Cook County, CCH intends to open an onsite food pantry/food pharmacy for health system patients at our Belmont Cragin Health Center in 2023 with the goal of piloting additional food and nutrition interventions for patients.

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