Support Food for Life Market® at UH

Food insecurity has long been an issue for thousands of people across Northeast Ohio. The COVID-19 pandemic and related job losses only added to that number. Prior to the pandemic, in an effort to help address the direct connection between food and a person’s health, University Hospitals opened its first Food for Life Market® at UH Otis Moss Jr. Health Center in 2018.

Located in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, the area had been designated a food desert, defined as an impoverished area with limited access to a grocery store by Cuyahoga County Board of Health's Creating Healthy Communities program and the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. Since opening, the market at Otis Moss Jr. Health Center has distributed more than 70,000 pounds of food to 1,100 individuals.

How The Program Works

Patients who screen as food insecure will receive a physician’s referral to visit the market. If they meet the requirements set by the food bank, the patient will receive a week’s worth of healthy food at no cost, as well as a one-on-one consultation with a registered dietitian. Healthy recipes, meal preparation tips and cooking demonstrations will also be offered.

“Education is what really sets us apart from a typical food pantry,” said Anne Leach, Registered Dietitian and Director of Clinical and Community Nutrition at Sodexo Healthcare, who has worked on behalf of UH to establish the UH Food for Life Market® “Our registered dietitians work with patients on the types of foods they want to see and also encourages them to try different foods and recipes.”

Jenny Menning, Outreach Community Dietitian at Sodexo Healthcare, calls each patient to explain how the program works, where the food comes from, what types of food are available and then schedules an appointment for them to come in. 

“Once they’ve made their first visit, I’ll follow up to make sure they utilized all the foods they got and see if there is anything they’d like to change,” Jenny said. “Patients are just so happy to come in and talk to someone who understands what they’re going through. They know fruits, vegetables, chicken and grains are better for their health, they just have trouble finding the right foods to eat.”

Additional Locations at UH

Since the first market opened in 2018, additional Food for Life Market® locations have opened recently across University Hospitals, including locations at UH Cleveland, Conneaut and Portage medical centers. Plans are underway to open an additional market at UH Parma Medical Center.

To support the UH Food for Life Market® and the vital work being done to address food insecurity and chronic illnesses, make a gift today.

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