'Food pharmacy' opens in Flint - WNEM TV 5

'Food pharmacy' opens in Flint

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

For years the city of Flint has fought its designation as a so-called "food desert."

It's a place where there's a lot of junk and fast food, but few options for good food like fruits and vegetables.

One local hospital is trying to change that by using a $50,000 grant to open Flint's first food pharmacy.

It is a service especially important to residents dealing with the impact of lead tainted water.

"Very helpful. It's hard to get good food with low income," said Cheryl Whitehead, patient.

She knows how difficult it is to find healthy food in a struggling city. That's why she visited Hurley's new food pharmacy on Tuesday.

It is a place where people with certain illnesses or low income can go to get healthy food choices.

Whitehead suffers from diabetes.

"I recently got out of the hospital and I was referred to the clinic and they called me here," she said.

Whitehead was the first patient to shop for free at the new center.

Alisa Craig helped get the pharmacy going. She said something like this can help those who are plagued with health issues from tainted water.

"Since the Flint water crisis, healthy nutrition can help counteract some of those bad effects. So high calcium, high vitamin C and iron. And you have things like that right here in the food pharmacy," Craig said.

The food pharmacy will be open 12 hours a week and it will let patients come in to get food twice a month.

Susanne Gunsorek, dietitian, said patients have to get a referral from their doctor to visit. She said they will even counsel patients on portion size and healthy food recipes.

"This is a dietitian's dream. I can actually bring people in here and walk through the rooms with them, helping them make good selections. And we have food available to them," Gunsorek said.

She said they get a lot of the food from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and hope to expand.

Whitehead said she already feels better after coming to the food pharmacy.

"I've learned a lot, to take my insulin and the different kinds of food you should take, and what you are not supposed to eat," Whitehead said.

The food pharmacy is open on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. You must have a referral from your healthcare provider.

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