Nashville General and Second Harvest host reception for ‘Food is Medicine’ program

(l-r): Robert Garnett, Plan President, Amerigroup; Jonathan Hall, Metro Councilman, District 1; Sharon Hurt, Metro Council Lady, At-Large; Burkley Allen, Metro Council Lady, At-Large; Brenda Haywood, Deputy Mayor for Community Engagement; Dr. Joseph Webb, CEO, Nashville General Hospital. (photo by Emanuel O. Roland II, ROLAND’S Photography)

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On Monday, October 21, the Chapel at Nashville General Hospital hosted a partnership reception to formally acknowledge that the Nashville General Hospital Foundation, along with Second Harvest, had received a $100,000 grant from the Amerigroup Foundation. The grant is designated to enhance the innovative ‘Food is Medicine’ program through the Food Pharmacy™ at Nashville General Hospital (NGH). On hand were representatives of the Hospital, Amerigroup, Second Harvest, and Metro government, as well as program participants and community stakeholders and citizens.

Food insecurity is strongly associated with poor nutrition and is linked to a negative impact on health across a person’s lifespan. The ‘Food is Medicine’ program introduces a platform in which healthcare providers at Nashville General Hospital (NGH) and essential hospital systems will be a part of the ongoing efforts to identify individuals affected by food insecurity and address their health and nutritional needs.

The Food Pharmacy™ is more than just a food pantry. NGH aims to assess all their patients for food insecurities at each entry into the organization. If positive, they then receive a prescription for The Food Pharmacy™ at NGH for designated foods identified by the patient’s diagnosis.

The focus is on low glycemic for diabetics, low sodium for HTN patients and high glycemic and protein for our oncology patients.

During the partnership event, several shareholders spoke to the audience about their perspectives on the partnership, including Vernon Rose, Executive Director of Nashville General Hospital Foundation and Dr. Joseph Webb, CEO of Nashville General Hospital.

Dr. Webb observed “Individuals that are suffering from food insecurity are also very likely to be challenged with other social determinants of health, such as access to health care,” and concluded “That means that they will, at some point, be our patients.”

Nancy Keil, President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (SHFB) provided remarks about the ‘Food is Medicine’ program, the partnership, and the grant award. Robert Garnett, Plan President for Ameri-group, also weighed in.

“What Nashville General and Second Harvest are doing really goes straight to our mission, which is improving the communities and the lives that we serve,” said Garnett. “Particularly, having food as a medicine is an extremely innovative concept… the need is absolutely out there.”

Metro Deputy Mayor for Community Engage-ment Brenda Haywood and Metro Councilman Jonathan Hall also shared on the program and Councilmembers at-Large Burkley Allen and Sharon Hurt and Councilwoman Jennifer Gamble were also in attendance, along with State Representative John Ray Clemmons.

“I learned a long time ago that we are what we eat, we are what we consume,” said Haywood. “One out of eight children in America are starving,” she noted. “As a minister, I know the best ship is a partnership.”

Nashville General Hospital patients John Turner and Diane Carriker also shared their personal stories about the success they achieved through the education and food totes they receive from The Food Pharmacy™.

After the remarks, tours of the Food Pantry were given and participants were treated to a healthy lunch of fruits, cheeses and vegetables, along with spinach dip, popcorn chicken and tea.

Learn more about The Food Pharmacy, at