Pediatric surgeon providing groceries to patients suffering from food insecurity

Pediatric surgeon providing groceries to patients suffering from food insecurity
FILE (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A local doctor is on a mission to get fresh groceries to patients and their families suffering from food insecurity in the Charlottesville area. Dr. Jeff Gander has since surpassed his original goal, and is now making sure his patients have enough fresh food to eat at all times.

“Our patients and our families who have food insecurity often don’t have the means to afford healthy, nutritious food and for whatever groceries what they buy are high in fat and high in sugar, thus leading to medical problems such as obesity and diabetes,” Gander said. “We really feel that if we help these families at an early stage of their life, that this can help patients throughout their life, their childhood, and prevent them from suffering from some of these illnesses.”

Roughly 17% of families in Charlottesville suffer from food insecurity. That’s why a few months ago, UVA Children’s Hospital partnered with the Local Food Hub to purchase fresh food for patients through the Fresh Farmacy Program. But first, $10,000 had to be raised.

Gander started an online fundraiser in October to come up with enough money to launch the program. NBC29 interviewed Gander about his goal a few months ago.

“After your news story and article, the giving just took off. We went from $2,000 to $8,000 in a week. It went really quickly,” Gander said.

Since raising enough money to purchase groceries, Gander and his team have been providing fresh food for eight families every other Thursday.

“The families have been receiving the food for just a little bit more than two months now, and everything has gone very well. The families really enjoyed the food and the different recipes that comes with it,” Gander said,

Gander says providing fresh groceries to food insecure patients may soon is not just happening in the hospital. He says this effort could become a law very soon.

“There’s a bill being put forth that physicians and nurse practitioners can actually write a prescription for fresh produce to their families who are suffering from food insecurity,” Gander said.

The bill, HB 2065 Produce Rx Program, recently passed in the House of Delegates.

“We put a video together supporting that bill and we really feel that is will probably pass” Gander said.

Gander says he thanks everyone who has donated to the program thus far and is trying to expand this initiative at UVA Children’s Hospital to more families who are suffering from food insecurity.

If you’re interested in helping him grow the program and help more patients suffering from food insecurity, you can donate to the fundraising page.

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