There’s a new way for northeast Ohio’s food deserts to access healthy, affordable food


PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) – A new program through University Hospitals is helping food deserts in northeast Ohio.

Inside the University Hospitals Portage County Medical Center is what is called a “Food for Life Food Market”.

“I underwent open-heart surgery. He is having back surgery. He had prostate surgery. And things were really tight,” said Sandra Grandee, who uses the market with her husband Terry.

One of the Greats’ doctors told them about this new free food market and how it would save them money and help them regain their health.

“The Food for Life program is one of University Hospitals strategic programs to address food insecurity,” said Anne Leach, Director of Clinical and Community Nutrition at University Hospitals. “Patients come in, they sit down for an appointment, and we screen them for food insecurity. If they test positive for any of the food questions we ask, their supplier will give them a referral to come to Food for Life Market. The referral is good for the patient to visit once a month for up to six months.

Food markets are staffed by registered dietitians. They guide people in their food choices. The market has fresh produce which means healthier options for people.

“I think we are eating better. I need to eat less. Sometimes I think when funds are really low, you tend to choose foods that are really not good for you, but they are cheaper,” Grandee said.

The market is funded by university hospitals and community donations. Patients do, however, need a referral to enter the program by a physician from University Hospitals.

“We were never on welfare. We’ve never been there, but it’s something that’s available to us,” said Grandee,

The Greats are among the 1,000 lives and expect to be changed by this program.

“We are blessed in so many ways. I don’t understand why more people aren’t taking advantage of it,” Grandee said.

This project is growing rapidly. There are two other Food for Life Markets in Cleveland. In addition, the University Hospitals will open their fourth in their Conneaut Medical Center in April.

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