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Riverside Health System Combating Hypertension with Food as Medicine Program

September 22, 2022
Food as Medicine PR

Riverside Health System has launched a Food as Medicine program – a six-month pilot program intended to address high blood pressure among an underserved population and educate community members on how to live a healthier lifestyle. The Food as Medicine program is an expansion of the Brentwood Healthy Food Box program which launched in 2018 and has since successfully helped community members who face food insecurity manage high A1C levels. 

The Food as Medicine program is focused on working with patients from Riverside Charlie W. and Golden Bethune Hill Community Clinic, and will equip participants and their families with tools and resources to change their relationship with food. Participants will follow the a heart healthy diet through the American Heart Association called DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) which helps manage high blood pressure and encourages eating leafy green vegetables, fibrous fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.

To make the Food as Medicine program possible, Riverside has partnered with community partners including the American Heart Association, Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, and the Urban League of Hampton Roads.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to continue the work with our community partners to expand the Brentwood Healthy Food Box program and make the Food as Medicine program a reality,” said Toiya Sosa, chief diversity officer at Riverside Health System. “As a pillar for health care in the Newport News community, we want to continue to support patients and the community at large with access to educational programs and ways to overcome social determinants of health.” 

Patients who participate in the program will receive a monthly box of food that is DASH diet compliant along with access to in-person nutrition classes. Additional resources include:

Cooking supplies including new cook ware and utensils

A blood pressure kit that will work with the MyChart patient app that allows monitoring by a physician

A free consultation with a dietician and free exercise classes. 

The selected forty-two patients who will take part in the Food as Medicine program will learn how diet plays a critical factor in controlling their hypertension and how to make smarter food choices with one of the goals being a reduction in body mass index (BMI). The program also addresses social determinants of health by incorporating courier services for patients who do not have access to transport the food and supplies, and by providing services for patients who do not have access to Wi-Fi or smart devices. 

“We are excited to broaden the Brentwood Healthy Food Box program to now include Food as Medicine which will make fresh food and food education accessible to our patients diagnosed with hypertension,” said Sally Ryan, President, and Chief Operating Officer of Riverside Medical Group. “We are grateful for the support from our community partners and recognize that this program will allow the Riverside Charlie W. and Golden Hill Community Health Clinic to further foster a relationship with our community as we work to improve health outcomes.” 

To learn more about Riverside’s community partnerships, please visit riversideonline.com/community.