Food Farmacy Grant from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation - Helps Improve

Health and Quality of Life for At-Risk and Underserved Populations

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— St. Joseph’s Health is proud to announce the creation of a Food Farmacy program to help address food insecurity and better manage chronic diseases. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2019, over 35 million Americans lived in households which were food insecure. Poor nutrition is a root cause of many chronic diseases. St. Joseph’s pilot program is made possible by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“We’re excited to implement the Food Farmacy because it will allow us to better support patients who have uncontrolled diabetes by providing them with healthy food as part of their treatment plan,” said Deb Mendzef, Food Farmacy coordinator at St. Joseph’s Health. “The program helps eliminate barriers to good health by educating patients about the benefits of eating healthy and then providing the healthy food they need to get started on a path to wellness.”

In the first year of operation, St. Joseph’s Primary Care Center-Main clinicians will refer patients to the program. Once enrolled, the patients will take part in an interdisciplinary program where they will receive nutritional counseling from a registered dietitian, participate in diabetes self-management classes with St. Joseph’s Family Medicine resident physicians, and be provided support with medication management from a hospital pharmacist. Most importantly, participants will receive, at no cost to them, fresh and healthy food (including recipes) for two meals per day, five days per week, for the entire time they participate in the program. These meals are not only provided for the participant, but the other members in their household (up to six individuals, including the patient).

“Food insecurity is a predictor of health and is linked to many chronic diseases. We are proud that we will be able to ensure that these patients, and their family members, have the resources necessary to provide a quality and healthy diet,” said Deb Mendzef.

“We are grateful for the generous gift from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, especially during this unprecedented time when so many are struggling with hunger in our community,” said Deborah Welch, vice president for mission and community health and well-being at St. Joseph’s Health. “With our aligned missions to serve those who are at risk or underserved, our two organizations are contributing resources critical to enhancing the ability of our physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff at St. Joseph’s Health to provide quality care to those individuals.”

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grant program aims to support individuals and families that are at-risk or underserved. Grant funding supports programming that:

  • Improves access to quality healthcare services and wrap around services by supporting integrated systems of care, mobile clinics, and health care workforce development.
  • Increases access to healthy, affordable food by supporting food banks, food pantries, and mobile food markets directly in neighborhoods.
  • Develops nutrition programs to encourage healthy eating and improves access to safe, recreational spaces in low-income communities.
  • Supports community centers, such as settlement houses that provide programming for community members.

In addition to providing healthy meals to patients, St. Joseph’s “Food is Medicine” initiative will offer a unique learning experience for resident physicians who provide care to some of our community’s most underserved populations through the Family Medicine Residency Program at St. Joseph’s Health. Having the availability of an on-site Food Farmacy, to where residents can refer their patients, will enhance patient care while also augmenting the education offered to tomorrow’s primary care physicians.

About The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the health and well-being of the vulnerable New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of targeted communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. The Foundation – which is named in memory of a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor – provides flexible support for new and innovative approaches that enhance health and wellness across New York State. More information may be found at

About St. Joseph’s Health

St. Joseph’s Health is a regional non-profit health care system based in Syracuse, NY. St. Joseph’s has been an innovative leader in health care since our founding in 1869 as the first hospital open to the public in the city of Syracuse. Offering primary, specialty and home care, a Magnet-recognized hospital, and collaboration with community partners, St. Joseph's Health advances the well-being of the communities we serve through an expanding range of services to ensure our patients achieve optimum long-term health. St. Joseph’s is the only hospital in Syracuse to hold the LeapFrog ‘A’ safety rating, ranked by Consumer Reports among the top 15 heart surgery centers in the country, a designated Stroke Center and a U.S. News “Best Regional Hospital.” St. Joseph’s Health is affiliated with St. Joseph’s Physicians, and is a member of Trinity Health.For more information, visit”

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