Well Fed, UAMS Partner on Food Prescription Program in Helena-West Helena

By Chris Carmody

The initiative, which serves patients at the UAMS Family Medical Center in Helena-West Helena, takes a holistic approach to diet-intervention practices, empowering people to improve their health by consuming the right kinds of healthy foods.

Patients with diet-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity will be given “prescriptions” for healthier, nutritious dietary options tailored to their health concerns. They will then receive groceries for free each month at an on-site food market developed by Well Fed.

Good Food Rx held its first food delivery day March 14.

Patients take part in a nutrition education class on the opening day of Good Food Rx.

Patients take part in a nutrition education class on the opening day of Good Food Rx.Image by Stephanie Loveless

“We are thrilled to launch this much-needed health care program here in Arkansas with UAMS,” said Josh Harris, executive director of Well Fed. “Together, we aim to forge a brighter future for health care and show that diet intervention is a powerful and necessary strategy to improve health outcomes.”

LaShanda Albert, research coordinator at the UAMS East Regional Campus, said the program is an important development for people in the Arkansas Delta, a region that contains counties ranked among the lowest in the state for overall health outcomes.

“We want to enrich people’s lives and improve their health,” she said. “Good health is essential and valuable for every individual.”

The program will also provide patients with monthly nutrition education classes and quarterly checkups that include assessments of their blood sugar, blood pressure, weight and body mass index. Engaging patients through these monthly meetings will help build confidence and accountability as they make life-changing choices to improve their health, Harris said.

“Some of the components of what we’re doing with this project can be found across the country,” he said. “But by putting these pieces together in a certain way, we’re creating something that’s unique.”

Funding for the Good Food Rx program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Delta Health Care Services Grant, Phillips County Giving Tree grants from the Arkansas Community Foundation, and a UAMS Chancellor’s Circle Grant.

“We are so thankful and appreciative of our partners who have helped fund and carry out this project,” said Stephanie Loveless, MPH, director of outreach at the UAMS East Regional Campus.

Well Fed is a 501(c)(3) food access and education nonprofit with a mission to end food insecurity in underserved, low-income communities in Arkansas through healthy grocery access and empowering nutrition education. Its mobile programs help overcome economic, physical and location barriers for food-insecure families. Well Fed programs have a proven impact on diet-related conditions. Healthy food and nutrition education are combined to help communities cook and eat healthier.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.