The Food Pharmacy at Nashville General Hospital

The Food Pharmacy at Nashville General Hospital (NGH) is a program that provides nutritional food totes to patients enrolled in the care management classes held at NGH for chronically-ill patients.

“Food is medicine and we treat our patients with different types of foods based upon their disease state needs such as diabetes, hypertension, morbid obesity, heart disease, and cancer patients,” says Mike Venters, Director of Nutrition Services at NGH.

The food totes reinforce healthy food habits to help patients achieve success in the lifetime commitment of disease self-management. The totes include shelf stable and fresh produce on a weekly basis. Support for the program is provided by the Margaret & Cal Turner Foundation, the Memorial Foundation, the Second Harvest Food Bank and NGH staff.

“Our food pharmacy is prescribed based on there specific diagnosis,” said Vernon Rose, Executive Director for Nashville General Hospital Foundation (NGHF).

Education is also an important aspect of the Food Pharmacy at Nashville General Hospital. The foundation teaches patients how to properly read food labels. “We have an eight week class for diabetic patients where they learn about nutrition, the disease, and self-management,” said Rose. ”We also talk about the challenges of taking care of their bodies.”

“45%-50% of our patients arrive with little to no ability to pay for their healthcare,” said Rose. “That gives some indication that they may also be faced with food deficiency.” The program also is supplemental. The Food Pharmacy at Nashville General Hospital does not replace regular grocery store visits. Depending on the circumstances of the patients household, the patient can be connected with a case manager, a nurse, or a dietitian.

“We know what we are doing is working we just need to do more of it!” Rose added.

The Foundation is always accepting new volunteers; no one will be turned away. There are opportunities to volunteer at the food pharmacy, make a monetary donation, or assist with the other program initiatives of the NGHF. “If it is in their heart for what they are wanting to do when they want to support someone in the community people can visit the website,” said Rose. “If it touches your heart, get involved.”

To find out more information about the Nashville General Hospital Foundation and to contact Vernon Rose for volunteer work, visit

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