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Saint Francis Hospital, a member of Trinity Health Of New England, has received a $70,540 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to support its new Food as Medicine Program, which includes a food farmacy at Saint Francis and a food farmacy and community kitchen on the Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital campus.

The hospitals’ innovative Food as Medicine Program, which is being developed in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s “Hartford Healthy Families Initiative” and SoNE Healthcare, aims to help underserved patients achieve more equitable health outcomes through nutrition education, food prescriptions, and positive lifestyle changes. In Hartford and across Connecticut, low-income residents and residents of color experience chronic medical conditions – and complications and mortality from them – at disparate rates compared to their more advantaged peers.

“Our hospitals’ most recent Community Health Needs Assessments reveal that obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions are among Hartford residents’ top health concerns and these conditions are exacerbated by their social care needs, such as access to healthy foods and neighborhood safety,” said Carolyn Alessi, Regional Director of Community Health and Well Being for Trinity Health Of New England’s Hartford market. “We are grateful to CHEFA for partnering with us to address our community’s greatest needs and to create an ecosystem conducive to healthy eating and engagement in preventive care on our campuses.”

Patients will be referred for participation in the Food as Medicine Program by their physicians and will track improvements to their weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure at regular follow-up visits. They will receive nutrition education and food prescriptions from dieticians at the food farmacies and support addressing their social care needs from community health workers.

At the new community kitchen, culturally appropriate, healthy cooking classes will reinforce newly gained nutrition knowledge and teach skills to help patients make healthy eating a regular habit at home with their families.

Patients of the hospitals’ two safety net clinics – Gengras Medical Clinic at Saint Francis and Burgdorf Health Center on the Mount Sinai campus – and Saint Francis obstetrics patients will be priority populations during the first year of the program. Ultimately, the community kitchen, which will be located in the north end of Hartford, will be open to area residents.

“We are deeply grateful to CHEFA for its generous support of our efforts to care for our most underserved patients and to transform the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Timothy R. Stanton, Regional Vice President of Philanthropy at Trinity Health Of New England and Chief Development Officer for the Saint Francis Foundation.

CHEFA is a quasi-public organization that provides access to tax-exempt financing, grants and other financial assistance to educational institutions, healthcare providers, childcare providers and other qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations. CHEFA has issued over $21.3B in bonds since 1965 and awarded more than $44M in grants since 2002. CHEFA is a self-supporting entity, receiving no state funds or taxpayer dollars.

About Saint Francis Hospital
Saint Francis Hospital has been an anchor institution in Connecticut since 1897. Saint Francis is a member of Trinity Health Of New England and Trinity Health, one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. Saint Francis Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center, is a 617-bed hospital, a major teaching hospital, and the largest Catholic hospital in New England. Other Saint Francis entities include the Comprehensive Women’s Health Center, the Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute, the Hoffman Heart and Vascular Institute of Connecticut, the Smilow Cancer Hospital Yale-New Haven at Saint Francis, Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group, and Community Health and Well Being, which includes the Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity, the Joan C. Dauber Food Pantry, and the Greater Hartford Family Advocacy Center. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @SaintFrancisCT