St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Continues Successful Steward Health Care Farmers Market Voucher Program

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine, continues its second year of its Farmers Market Voucher Program, utilized at local farmers markets, to help select patients with type I, type II or gestational diabetes prepare healthier meals for themselves and their families and therefore minimize their risk of diabetic complications.

St. Elizabeth’s began offering this program as a trial in February 2013 to 32 patient participants and their family members, for a total of 78 people.  Since then, the program has expanded in 2014 to include approximately 80 participants.  Additionally, the hospital provided more than $15,000 in vouchers to more than 100 people who receive services at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Dorchester, MA. St. Mary’s offers innovative and family-centered programs for women and children who have experienced trauma and are living in poverty.

St. Elizabeth’s is a founding member of the Steward Health Care’s Farmers Market Voucher Program providing vouchers or “Steward Bucks” to these participants. In conjunction with education around diabetes management and nutrition, participants are encouraged to purchase and prepare healthier meals for themselves and their families.  In addition to providing vouchers to young women and families in their residential programs, St. Mary’s, like St. E’s, is providing cooking demonstrations and education on healthy eating habits.

“Our 2013 trial program here at St. E’s was considered a success and enabled us to expand the program in its second year,” said Sasha Corken, Director of Community Partnerships for St. Elizabeth’s. “We based our continuation on the direct feedback of the initial patient participants who felt the program helped them make different food choices. We look forward in the coming months to see what impact these choices have on their diabetes symptoms.”

Appropriate patients were referred through the Diabetes Center at St. Elizabeth’s. Selected participants had a diagnosis of diabetes with or without co-morbidities who voiced behavior changes including increased incorporation of fruits and vegetables into daily meals as a goal.  Participants agreed to track indicators such as blood glucose levels, weight, BMI, and blood pressure over the course of the program.  Participants also completed surveys at the end of the program indicating how often they attended markets, whether they found items that they were able to incorporate into meals, and how many times per week they used fresh produce purchased at the farmers market in meals.

Currently participating patients receive $1 per patient and family member per day (equivalent to $30/month for each member of the family) to be utilized at one of more than 100 farmers markets associated with the Federation of Mass Farmers Markets (FMFM). The Allston Village Farmer’s Market is a destination for participating patients where the hospital also offers cooking demonstrations and healthy recipe cookbooks twice each month through October.

About St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center is a major academic medical center affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine.  Areas of medical excellence include vascular and endovascular surgery, cardiology, neurosciences, general and robotic surgery, bariatric surgery, women’s health, high-risk obstetrics, bone and joint health, hematology/oncology, pulmonary medicine and emergency medicine.  St. Elizabeth’s is a member of Steward Health Care, which is the second largest health care system in New England.  Visit St. Elizabeth’s online at Steward.org/St-Elizabeths.

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