St. Mary Medical Center’s Families Living Well Program’s mission is to empower children and their families in Bucks County with the tools to make choices that lead to better, healthier lifestyles. Families Living Well encourages: eating healthfully, getting more active, believing in yourself. If you eat healthy, are more active, and believe in yourself, you will become healthier.
St. Mary Medical Center has developed outreach programs to address the growing obesity epidemic in children and their increased risk for chronic diseases. They believe that by teaching the importance of eating healthier and moving more at an early age, we can reduce the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and certain types of cancer in the community. They partner with school districts, local farm programs, and other area recreational sites to bring these programs to families throughout Bucks County. https://www.stmaryhealthcare.org/flw
St. Mary Medical Center Families Living Well Program uses these strategies within Fresh Connect – a free farm market bringing fresh, healthy food to our hungry neighbors in Bucks County. Fresh Connect is a collaboration of Bucks County Opportunity Council, Philabundance, Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and St. Mary Medical Center, with funding provided by United Way of Bucks County. JoAnn Dorr, Families Living Well program manager at St. Mary Medical Center says “The Fresh Connect program has brought together a community partnership which continues to grow and expand to meet the food security needs of the community. The Fresh Connect program demonstrates the impact of partners working and collaborating together to address a community need and to assist neighbors in living healthier lives. Fresh Connect validates the extent of food insecurity in Bucks County.”
The St. Mary team provides nutritional education to families participating in the program. They coach families on how to best use the produce they are receiving by providing recipes and samples of food. This is a good way to introduce new foods to younger families who may not be familiar with an array of vegetables or how to go about cooking them. St. Mary was given the opportunity to contribute a twenty four foot refrigerated truck for transporting produce to Fresh Connect sites and pantries through capitol legacy funding from Trinity Health.
Dorr explained that, “Food insecurity affects people of all age, race and health status in Bucks County. Health promotion and disease prevention occur by improving access to healthier options such as a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, a recipe, and recipe tasting. The health equity of the community improves with every week Fresh Connect delivers fresh produce! St. Mary’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of the community.”