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Small space, big impact. Akron Children's Food Farmacy's success leads to expansion

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Food Farmacy entrance Akron Children's

Akron, Ohio

Last winter, Summit provided CMR services for Akron Children’s new Food Farmacy. “The Food Farmacy pilot program was launched in January 2023 to help patient families combat food insecurity and improve their access to healthy food choices.” (akronchildrens.org)

According to Chanelle Waligura, Food Pantry Coordinator, patients who screen positive for food insecurity during their visits and meet income eligibility requirements can be referred to the Farmacy from different departments.

Chanelle standing by cooler

Food Farmacy pantry and cooler

The project began with the clearing of an existing common area inside the Considine Professional Building next to Smucker’s Bistro. Just over one year later, the 180 square foot space has proven to be small but mighty, serving on average 15-30 families per day or 400 per month.

According to Chanelle, when a family visits the pantry, they leave with 3-5 days' worth of food, and can select from a growing list of culturally specific foods and plenty of fresh produce. “We recognized the space was too small from the start and we had to store non-food items, such as bags for packing food and hygiene items in space in another building,” said Chanelle.

Chanelle talking about the pantry

The new expansion includes a new freezer, larger dry good space and a new storage space which is in proximity to the Food Farmacy, all of which will allow Chanelle and other Akron Children’s staff and volunteer the ability to better serve patients.

In addition to expanding the pantry size, adding a freezer and new storage, a window will be added to the pantry. “There are lines of people out the door some days,” said Chanelle. The window will allow the person working the pantry to view the number of patients waiting in line and help the flow of service to families.

Food Farmacy

Additionally, the Education and Wellness Garden is located behind the Locust building and is comprised of raised beds planted with tomatoes, squash, peppers, carrots and radishes. These veggies are donated to the Food Farmacy and are available for patient families.

The Food Farmacy is undoubtedly improving the lives of hundreds of families through the existing space, and we can’t wait to see how the new expansion will support Akron Children’s services in an even more impactful way for people in need in our community.