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'Food as Medicine': Buffalo to lead growing national movement


Fri, Oct 15th 2021 01:20 pm

Symposium to take place Oct. 16

Submitted by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

You are what you eat, and though that idea was first articulated and explored in the 19th century and beyond, now, some of the nation’s leading medical experts and nutritionists will collaborate with Western New York’s leading advocates to proactively advance the concept further and highlight the fact that food is indeed medicine, advancing a movement here in Western New York that has been growing rapidly in the U.S. in recent years.

On Oct. 16, beginning at 8:30 a.m., some of the nation’s leading medical experts in the food as medicine field will convene with Western New York’s leading authorities in a variety of medical disciplines to explore how nutrition can improve medical outcomes.

The BNMC, the organization that manages the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and innovation community, is presenting its first annual “Food as Medicine Symposium,” bringing together local and national leaders in the growing food as medicine discipline to discuss the importance of the inclusion of nutrition in medical school curricula, food as medicine interventions and equity, and the importance of partnership among health care and community organizations to improve health outcomes for everyone.

At the symposium, the joint keynote address will feature David Waters, CEO at Community Servings in Boston; and Karen Pearl, president and CEO at God’s Love We Deliver in New York City. 

A press release noted, “From delivering thousands of medically tailored meals, to publishing research to advocating for policy changes at the state and federal level, David and Karen are driving support for the national food as medicine movement. They are part of a group of nutrition activists who founded the Food Is Medicine Coalition, an association of nonprofit medically tailored food and nutrition service providers focusing efforts on policy, research and capacity building nationwide.”

BNMC has been a driving force in a campuswide effort to improve access to healthy food in hospitals and the surrounding community – collaborating with Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and other medical facilities on the campus, and implementing the farm to hospital program that has connected local farmers and growers to food procurement systems at area hospitals. This program has allowed BNMC partners to serve healthy, locally sourced food to the tens of thousands of patients and visitors that rely on campus resources each year while also benefitting local farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs.

The symposium is being hosted to fulfill deliverables for both of BNMC’s USDA grant-funded programs for farm to hospital, an effort to increase procurement of local healthy foods by medical campus institutions. The program launched in 2015 to cultivate a culture of healthy food within the health care system, establish greater food chain transparency, increase business opportunities for local farm and food partners, and increase knowledge among employees, patients and visitors of the health, environmental and economic benefits of local foods.

Elizabeth (Beth) Machnica, director of community well-being at BNMC, said, “Food is undoubtedly a major factor, if not the leading factor, in the determination of medical outcomes, decades of research have shown us this. What we are missing is widespread awareness and adoption of the movement. Our symposium is open to all who would like to learn more and join us in discovering the latest developments and innovations to engage and empower our communities to evaluate the relationships between the food system, medical outcomes, and overall health and well-being.”

Conference organizer and BNMC Farm to Institution Program Coordinator Marla Guarino added, “The food as medicine discipline is growing and gaining momentum in the United States, at the BNMC we want to ensure our campus and community are at the forefront of innovation and leadership in the field. This is important for our city, which has been – and still is – home to food inequities in our communities. Our symposium will spotlight that and discuss how we can make meaningful change.”

Learn more and access the full conference agenda here.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) seeks to reimagine our city’s future through the dynamic intersection of technology, health, discovery and collaboration. The BNMC is an enterprise focused on cultivating inclusive innovation in partnership with our community. We do this by improving infrastructure, managing our sustainable transportation system, creating a culture of health and wellbeing, facilitating and nurturing innovation, and working with our partners to drive equitable economic development and growth. Visit www.bnmc.org.

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