June 1, 2021

Food Farmacies: A Nutrition-Focused Approach to Health

Food Farmacies: A Nutrition-Focused Approach to Health

Above: Valerie Veltri (left), Food Farmacy Case Manager in Montgomery County and Hana Chehade (center), Dietician, Albany Food Farmacy, help participants build healthier lives regardless of income level.

Catholic Charities recently opened the doors of its third Food Farmacy program in as many years. The latest Food Farmacy is located at St. Mary’s Memorial Campus and will serve food-insecure individuals with health-related issues in Montgomery County. Catholic Charities oversees another site in Schenectady at Ellis Hospital and a third in Albany.

How does a Food Farmacy work?
Each Food Farmacy operates like a food pantry insomuch that participants have access to readily-available food items.

Unlike a food pantry, our Food Farmacies have specially-trained staff onsite to work directly with referred individuals. These individuals receive fresh, healthy food items along with nutritional counseling to better manage their health and any medical conditions they might have, such as diabetes or hypertension.

This innovative approach is designed to address social determinants of health by combating food insecurity and addressing immediate and long-term nutritional needs of our neighbors. Our goal is to provide people with the tools they need to make informed health-conscious and budget-friendly decisions long-term.

“Access to nutritional education and healthy food is important when maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” said CEO Vince Colonno of the Food Farmacy sites, “We’ve operated food pantries and meal programs for decades and have found this approach helps to create healthier outcomes for the people we serve.”

Mary Carpenter, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, agrees, “We’ve seen it work. Just recently, a gentleman was referred to our Food Farmacy program at St. Mary’s hospital. He worked with our staff and is now leading a healthier life. This approach works for people.”

Can I visit the Food Farmacy?
Visits are scheduled on a referral-only basis. If you think you might qualify for one of our Food Farmacy programs, ask your doctor or medical provider for more information!
Our Food Farmacies are made possible through partnerships with Ellis Hospital, St. Mary’s Healthcare and the Alliance for Better Health, as well as through generous donations from our neighbors and supporters across the Diocese!

Our Food Farmacies are made possible through partnerships with Ellis Hospital, St. Mary’s Healthcare and the Alliance for Better Health, as well as through generous donations from our neighbors and supporters across the Diocese!