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ARMC wins NACo Award for increasing access to nutritious foods for San Bernardino County residents

ARMC wins NACo Award for increasing access to nutritious foods for San Bernardino County residents

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) recently won a National Association of Counties (NACo) award for providing access to healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains for residents of San Bernardino County. The NACo Achievement Award is an awards program recognizing innovative county programs. ARMC partnered with Southland Farmers’ Market Association (SFMA) to develop a certified farmers market at the hospital.

Access to healthy foods is a challenge for many residents of San Bernardino County. Low-income areas where a substantial number of people lack access to healthy foods are known by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “food deserts.” Positioning the farmers market directly in front of the main entrance and exit to the hospital captures the attention of patients discharged from the hospital or seen in an outpatient clinic. The farmers market reinforces the education providers offer when seeing patients and gives patients, visitors and staff a tangible example of how San Bernardino County and ARMC lead by example.

Patients often schedule their appointments on Farmers Market Day to take advantage of the fresh produce and healthy offerings. Hospital staff take their breaks and lunch period to browse the farmers market booths to pick up groceries, lunch or snacks. The farmers market provides a convenient way for physicians and nurses to counsel their patients to visit the market to pick up vegetables and fruit in a “food-as-medicine” approach to health care.

Beyond bridging the gap between the community and their access to nutritious foods, the farmers market creates a space to promote health and wellness resources available to the community. For instance, the ARMC Nutrition Services Department and Wellness Committee take advantage of the farmers market by providing nutrition education to patients, visitors and staff. Additionally, cardiac and comprehensive stroke programs provide prevention education. Other county departments, including Public Health and Behavioral Health, also attend and share county program information, mental health resources, and health screenings.