FRESH PRODUCE PROGRAM
Focused on healing the food system through education and outreach, community service, and advocacy. In response to the impact of the COVID pandemic on exacerbating food insecurity, the Fresh Produce Program has developed a food delivery system that serves low income patients in Durham. The past few months, we have doubled our program size and partnered with local businesses to provide patients with produce, masks, cleaning kits, planter kits, medical equipment, and so much more!
Even before COVID-19, food insecurity was a significant issue in Durham County, with 1 in 5 residents struggling with food security. The economic impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity for many low-income Durham residents by decreasing financial stability, job security, and safe access to public transportation. For those with chronic health conditions, getting food has become a risky, scary, and uncertain endeavor due to the COVID-19 transmission risk, and grocery stores running out of stock on numerous food and non-food essentials.
In response, the Root Causes Fresh Produce Program has worked closely with our amazing community partners, Farmer Foodshare, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and Duke Campus Farm. to package and deliver locally-sourced produce and shelf stable items to food insecure Duke Health patients. Our patients, adults and children, are referred to us by providers at various Duke Health clinics including the Duke Outpatient Clinic, Lincoln Community Health Center, and Duke Healthy Lifestyles Clinic. Many of these patients have multiple chronic health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to unstable food access. Since April 1st, the Root Causes Fresh Produce Program has served nutritious food to over 200 patients and their families, totaling over 35,000 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, and shelf-stable foods.
We have been fortunate that our call for volunteers brought forth the energy of over 100 students from various Duke graduate schools (Medicine, Physician Assistant, Nursing, Environment, Public Policy, and Business to name a few) to help make patient calls, coordinate food sourcing, pack food bags, and make touch-free home deliveries. We are also lucky to be financially supported through existing grant funding, generous GoFundMe donations, food donations from our food partner agencies in Durham, and new Covid assistance grants from American Heart Association and the Duke Endowment in partnership with Farmer Foodshare.