SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Patients suffering from chronic diseases are learning food-as-medicine options that are proven to help alleviate their symptoms and feel better.

WVU Medicine Thomas Hospitals has partnered with FARMacy WV and Crichfield Farms to make fresh produce and healthy recipes more accessible to those with Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as those who are pre-diabetic.

Thomas Hospitals Clinic Manager and Community Champion with the program, Hope Cascetta said the locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables prescribed to these patients as part of the 15-week program will help lower their HgA1c and improve their health. 

She said she is excited to be kicking off the program in the area.

“I’m very honored to have the first kick-off here in Charleston,” Cascetta said. “The program is actually statewide and it’s in other counties, but this is the first one in Kanawha County and we’ll look forward to doing it each year.”

Each patient involved in the program through Thomas Hospitals will be given a prescription to receive a one-week supply of produce that can be picked up at a weekly farmer’s market for the 15 weeks the program lasts.

Cascetta said they will try to provide a variety of fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis.

“This week we have green beans, onions, corn, zucchini and cucumbers but it’s going to vary week to week,” she said.

Thomas Hospitals Marketing and Philanthropy Vice President Kristin Anderson said West Virginia leads the country in chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Anderson said this program will really help combat that issue head-on as it’s proven that improving one’s diet can positively impact their overall health.

“Thinking about the notion that food is medicine, which is something that we believe here at Thomas Hospitals, but it’s also something that the FARMacy WV believes, and so, along that notion, it’s important to make sure that people have access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Anderson said the program won’t just supply them with the produce, however, but will also offer hands-on cooking demonstrations through WVU Extension educators for the initial six weeks.

She said when patients come get the fresh produce each week, they will also be able to participate in the demonstrations so they can learn cooking techniques and recipes to cook the fruits and vegetables at home and implement healthy eating into their daily lives.

“Making sure we’re not just sending people home with a turnip or whatever it is that week and they may not know what to do with it or how to make it delicious for their families, something they enjoy eating, so giving them those extra skills and providing those hands-on demonstrations I think will be really impactful,” Anderson said.

Anderson said they have worked with several of their physicians and primary care providers to identify patients who would qualify for the program who are experiencing at least one type of chronic disease.

She said they take labs at the beginning of the program monitoring their HgA1c and lipids and follow that through until the end to make sure the changes in their diets are having an impact. Physicians have also administered surveys to patients in the program regarding information about food insecurities, eating habits, produce preparation and consumption.

FARMacy WV co-founder Amanda Cummins said in a statement that the new program directly supports their aim of getting local produce to patients who need it most.

“With more than 30 locations across the state, our aggregate data shows that FARMacy WV participants obtain lower HgA1C rates, improved control of their diabetes, feel better and learn to eat smarter,” Cummins stated. “Dr. Carol Greco and I are excited for WVU Medicine Thomas Hospitals initiative to host a pilot FARMacyWV program for this part of the state.”

You can learn more about the program at

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