Food Farmacy in Action

Posted on: December 15, 2023Chicago

A day at the Healthy Living Food Farmacy kicks off weeks before the actual day of distribution, marked by meticulous planning, food orders, patient outreach, new registrations, and a thorough review of ongoing public policy initiatives aimed at tackling food disparities in neighboring systems. Weeks later, this culminates down to a half-dozen bleary-eyed health workers poised to distribute 3000 free pounds of food to nearly 500 patients. 

Of course, today, at the big Christmas Food Farmacy, the food delivery truck is stuck in traffic. The 2-hour delay doesn't escape the notice of the patients in their vehicles. Some laugh it off, others honk their horns. An understandable tension might permeate, and maintaining a positive attitude becomes a challenge even for the volunteers and community health workers.

Nevertheless, in the midst of the stress, the clarion call of our mission buoys our work and sense of service. Beyond being a biweekly distribution project and the provisions of health screenings and free food, the Food Farmacy serves as a strategic response to the prevalent challenges of nutrition accessibility and gaps in medical knowledge within the community. It embodies a commitment to education and nutrition transcending mere food distribution, calling for active community involvement and input, and allowing us to look beyond transient traffic delays in favor of our greater food equity goals.

When the produce pallets are finally unloaded, the next hours are spent in a flurry of packing fresh collard greens and ripe citrus fruits, but we remain focused on seeking feedback from the participants. During the brief interludes between loading cars with our specifically chosen produce and healthy proteins, volunteers actively engage with the patients, asking about any comments or questions they might have. This approach fosters a dynamic of community education guided by direct input from the patients. Practical queries like, "What should I do if I've received an excess of collard greens?" and culinary dilemmas such as, "How can I enhance the (bland) taste of celery?" evolve into opportunities for meaningful dialogue and shared learning.

The Food Farmacy functions as more than just a distribution point—it emerges as a platform for reciprocal partnerships and advocacy. It stands as a living testament to the dedication to addressing the challenges of nutrition and medical knowledge unavailability and inaccessibility. Food farmacy distribution days serve as a reminder that our mission surpasses the immediate environment, late food truck or not. It embodies a joint endeavor to equip individuals with the tools and knowledge required to make informed decisions regarding their health and nutrition, helping provide a healthier, more knowledgeable, and resilient community—in Chicago and beyond.


About the Author:

Elijah Suh

Pronouns: he/him

Position Title: Food Farmacy Health Educator

Where are you from?

I was born in Hollywood, CA, but my father's military service took me to South Carolina, Germany, Korea, Florida, Australia, Turkey, Alabama, Virginia, Japan, Massachusetts, and the UK! I'm excited to explore my new home in Chicago, and I'll be sure to learn all I can from its unique culture and opportunities!

Why did you decide to join NHC?

Host Site

2320 E. 93rd St.
Chicago, IL 60617
2320 E. 93rd St.
Chicago, IL 60617