• Press Release

Food As Medicine Project Brings Farm Fresh Produce to Upper Manhattan and Bronx Residents

  • New York, NY
  • (May 17, 2022)

The Food as Medicine project (FAM), led by Harlem-based Corbin Hill Food Project, will measure the impact of a produce prescription program to reduce food insecurity and improve health. Corbin Hill Food Project, a BIPOC-led, community-based organization, is the first in New York State to receive a significant USDA food as medicine grant. In partnership with Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Institute for Family Health's Bronx Health REACH Project, FAM will collect data on dietary health and behavior and reduction of household food insecurity with the long term goal to reduce healthcare use and associated costs.

The Food As Medicine project, supported by a Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, Produce Prescription grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), builds upon Corbin Hill Food Project’s decade of experience bringing farm fresh produce to New York City residents.

“We design all aspects of the farm share to be as inclusive as possible to meet the needs of low-income, BIPOC, and immigrant communities,” says Dennis Derryck, Co-founder and Co-Executive Director of Corbin Hill Food Project, “and more critically, we get the buy-in from participants.” Participants buy-in for $2.50 weekly using either SNAP dollars or cash. For greater accessibility, FAM will be developing a home delivery model to serve participants 65 years and older and those who may be unable to travel. Additionally, the program is exploring options for providing tokens to cover a portion transportation costs, another barrier to accessing fresh food.

The program expands on prior efforts of partners, Mount Sinai and the Tisch Illumination Fund, to prescribe food as medicine and pave the way for larger initiatives that address health disparities linked to nutrition security and inequitable access to fresh foods. The FAM project will serve 260 families with bi-monthly produce boxes over 12 months across three sites in Harlem and the South Bronx.

The Food as Medicine project is timely, as New York State Department of Health is currently soliciting comments for a new Medicaid 1115 Waiver Demonstration proposal through May 20th, 2022. The proposal addresses the link between health disparities and systemic health care delivery issues that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 Pandemic and requests $13 billion in new Medicaid funding over five years. With social determinants of health like nutrition insecurity in low-income communities at the forefront of the 1115 Waiver Demonstration proposal, the FAM project could serve as a pilot model for future produce prescription programs, especially in urban settings.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Corbin Hill Food Project sets a great example of connecting the dots between farmers and consumers as they work to bring local, fresh, nutritious foods to residents in their community. I send my sincere congratulations to our partners on the Corbin Hill team on receiving this USDA funding, and look forward to seeing the future of their Food as Medicine project and continued expansion.”

Project Director of Bronx Health REACH Charmaine Ruddock said, "The Food as Medicine Project recognizes that the more patients hear from their health providers about the importance of daily eating more fruits and vegetables, and then have ready access to affordable fruits and vegetables the likelier they

will be to improve their health. As we have done with our previous initiative, the Vegetable and Fruit Prescription program, partnership with Corbin Hill Food Project, will allow us to increase the opportunity for more Bronx residents to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their everyday meals."

President and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, co-founder of Bronx Health REACH, and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Icahn Mount Sinai Neil Calman, MD said, “As a family physician who practiced in the South Bronx for 35 years, I am proud to participate in this effort to provide healthier food to members of the community. People want to do what’s best for themselves and their families and this program will help overcome some of the barriers that stand in their way in neighborhoods that have been historically neglected.”

About Corbin Hill Food Project:

Corbin Hill Food Project (corbinhill-foodproject.org) is a values-driven social enterprise with the mission of supplying fresh food to those who need it most and a long-term vision of food sovereignty and a wealth-building food system in communities of color. For a decade, the organization’s innovative strategy utilizes existing community assets and leverages health networks to bring farm fresh produce to underserved communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Corbin Hill distributed 4,000 boxes of food weekly over 20 weeks that translated into 540,000 fresh food boxes to NYC residents. Prior to the pandemic, Corbin Hill regularly distributed farm shares across 29 community sites in all 5 boroughs, with 66% of all farm shares distributed to households making less than 200 percent of the poverty level.

About The Institute for Family Health's Bronx Health REACH Project:

The Bronx Health REACH Coalition (www.bronxhealthreach.org) is led by The Institute for Family Health (www.institute.org). Founded in 1999, Bronx Health REACH is committed to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in the Bronx, and promotes health equity by increasing opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy food. The Institute for Family Health is a federally qualified health center network that operates 30 community health centers in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Mid-Hudson Valley. Primary care, behavioral health care and dental services are available to people of all ages, regardless of ability to pay.

About the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is internationally renowned for its outstanding research, educational and clinical care programs. It is the sole academic partner for the eight member hospitals of the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States, providing care to a large and diverse patient population. It is ranked 14th nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and among the 99th percentile in research dollars per investigator according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. More than 3,000 full-time scientists, educators and clinicians work within and across 34 academic departments and 35 multidisciplinary institutes, a structure that facilitates tremendous collaboration and synergy. Icahn Mount Sinai offers highly competitive MD, PhD, and Master’s degree programs, with current enrollment of approximately 1,300 students. It has the largest graduate medical education program in the country, with more than 2,000 clinical residents and fellows training throughout the Health System. In addition, more than 550 postdoctoral research fellows are in training within the Health System. To learn more, please visit https://icahn.mssm.edu/

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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