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Feeding Tampa Bay, Florida Blue to bring food pantries to local doctor offices

Posted at 5:13 PM, Feb 12, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- A pharmacy for free food.

It’s a new program — with Feeding Tampa Bay and Florida Blue — to help people who can’t afford healthy food.

Participating doctor offices and other medical facilities will now have food pantries with fresh produce for patients in need.

“If you have heart disease, there are certain things you need to eat. If you have diabetes there are certain things you need to eat,” said Rick Bennett.

Bennett is the manager of local partnerships and strategic programming for Florida Blue. He said doctors will prescribe a healthy food item, and the patient will stop by the pantry to pick up the food item before leaving.

“That’s the biggest challenge. We know we want to be shopping in the outer ring of the grocery store because that’s where the healthy stuff is, but it’s expensive,” said Matt Spence.

Spence, the chief programs officer for Feeding Tampa Bay, said this will let the doctor know what the patient is getting, what they need and take the financial burden away from the patient.

The Tampa Family Health Center is the first facility to sign on. Their pantry will open in April. Feeding Tampa Bay said there are other doctor’s offices gearing up for a food pantry as well.

What do you do when you run out of the food you’re prescribed? Feeding Tampa Bay has a Saturday produce market at Trinity Cafe on Busch Boulevard and patients can go to get more fresh produce.