BUFFALO, N.Y. — FeedMore WNY is partnering with D'Youville University and Catholic Health to fight hunger through an initiative called the Food Farmacy.
It's more than just a food pantry. There's a focus on health and wellness through nutrition and increasing access to healthy, fresh food. Clients can work with a dietitian and get free nutrition counseling. The Food Farmacy also offers free cooking classes.
Clients are encouraged to set health goals and monitor their progress with free health screenings.
It's located inside the D'Youville Heath Professions Hub located at 301 Connecticut Street in Buffalo. Hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Food Farmacy isn't just for university students; anyone from Western New York can take advantage of the Farmacy's services.
Patients at Sisters Health Center — located in the same building — are also referred to the Farmacy, especially those at risk of health problems tied to poor diets, such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.
"We tend to have a lot of different products that might be low in sodium and low in sugar if someone has a specific need. We get gluten-free options. We get halal options. We are really trying to encompass everyone's specific needs, make sure they are eating and eating the food they like and fueling their bodies," said Food Farmacy dietitian Katie Morris.
The Food Farmacy was launched about a year ago, and so far they've helped more than 400 people in the community.
Clients make their choices on an iPad, and Farmacy volunteers do the "shopping."
Client Melissa Williams was invited to check out the Farmacy at a time when she really needed some help focusing on her physical and mental health.
"The Food Farmacy doesn't just represent to me the actual physical, literal food. It is the knowledge, the skills. It's the relationships that you build here that you're getting as part of your food, your diet. My new diet is compassion, love, confidence, courage, and understanding. And well being. That's the food you're getting from the Food Farmacy," said Williams.
Clients also get a certificate upon completing the program, but many continue to pop into the classes and still check in with the dietitian.
The goal, aside from fighting food insecurity, is to have the clients become ambassadors in the community — let people know of this resource and share the things they've learned with their families and others.