Hospitals in the US are setting up food banks, and medical schools are putting cooking classes on the curriculum – part of a shift in focus away from simply treating disease toward caring for the whole person.
Published May 31, 2017
Co-authored by Story Hinckley
TUSTIN, CALIF. AND BOSTON––In her white lab coat and slacks, Maureen Villaseñor looked better suited to be handing out prescriptions at a clinic than talking salad dressing in a grocery store aisle.
But on a May afternoon, the Orange County pediatrician was at a Ralph’s supermarket in Tustin, Calif., dispensing shopping tips instead of pills. Inquiring shoppers got advice on everything from how to coax toddlers to eat more vegetables (she suggested mixing them with favorite foods) to how to make a tasty, low-calorie salad dressing at home.
The endeavor, called “Shop with Your Doc,” is meant to help people make educated, healthy choices one grocery cart at a time. The program is about more than just nutrition.
Shop with Your Doc is part of a broader – and still growing – movement in US medicine to shift the focus away from simply treating disease toward caring for the whole person. Across the country, hospitals are setting up food banks and medical schools are putting cooking classes on the curriculum. Nonprofits are connecting medical centers with community resources to ensure that low-income Americans have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
The common thread is an effort to incorporate into treatment the lifestyle choices, socioeconomic circumstances, environmental factors, and history that contribute to a person’s overall health.
“It’s about working to take care of the community where they’re at and about understanding the conditions affecting the community,” says Nisha Morris, executive director of public relations at St. Joseph Hoag Health, which started the program in 2015.