The Healthy Food Center is the one-stop-shop that helps people get their health on track.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny Health Network is using prescriptions for food to improve the health of people in the community.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller saw how AHN is finding a way to address food insecurity.

Across from the West Penn Hospital in a freezer, people go to receive a box of food that can feed a family of four for one week.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables, we have low-fat dairy products, whole grains, we have lean meats and plant-based proteins,” said Colleen Ereditario, senior manager of the Healthy Food Center.

The Healthy Food Center is the one-stop-shop that helps people get their health on track.

“The set up is set up like a grocery store. So pre-COVID, we would bring the patients in and we would shop with them just like a grocery store. And we would talk about how to read a label, how to look for fruit and natural juice,” said Ereditario.

West Penn Hospital screens patients at doctor’s appointments for food insecurity, giving them a prescription to come to the center.

“Pre-COVID, we didn’t have the emergency boxes. But because of COVID, we realized there’s a need for emergency food and also deliveries,” Ereditario said.

It’s a program birthed from the health giant’s Center for Inclusion Health.

“People that are stigmatized, people that are excluded, people that are poor, don’t have political power, access to political power have the worst health outcomes,” said Stuart Fisk from the Center for Inclusion Health.

Fisk runs the program that aims to give high-quality care to all the people usually excluded by society.

“Food insecurity leaves people without appropriate diet and appropriate nutrition that helps them fight disease appropriately,” said Fisk.

That is why Allegheny Health Network wants to use the center to turn that negative outcome into a positive. Allegheny Health Network plans to open another healthy food center at Jefferson Hospital in early September.

Meghan Schiller