Harris Health officials are expanding what it calls the Food Farmacy intervention program to at least three additional sites throughout Harris County, which now will include a Precinct 3 location, after Harris County commissioners approved allocating close to $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding at a Dec. 19 meeting.

By addressing health-related social needs, such as poor nutritional knowledge and the lack of access to nutritious food, Food Farmacies serves all adult patients experiencing food insecurity by connecting them with healthy foods, dietician support, benefits enrollment navigators and other community resources, according to the program's website.

What happened

Before the commissioner’s approval to allocate the $497,358 federal funds, Harris Health’s Food Farmacies existed at only two of the county’s family practice clinics, Acres Home Health Center and Strawberry Health Center, as well as Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.

With the funding, the services have been expanded to:
  • Precinct 1: Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center
  • Precinct 2: Gulfgate Health Center
  • Precinct 4: El Franco Lee Health Center
The three initial expansion sites were selected due to the volume of patients who are experiencing food insecurity and due to the space available at the site to house the program, according to December court documents.

Service expansion was not initially provided to Precinct 3 in December, and Commissioner Tom Ramsey expressed concerns to Harris Health officials. The agenda item was added to the Jan. 9 Commissioner's Court meeting.

After a discussion between Ramsey and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo at the Jan. 9 meeting, the Food Farmacy service expansion for Precinct 3 now includes consideration for the following Harris Health facilities:
  • Cypress Health Center
  • Squatty Lyons Health Center
The date for the Precinct 3 location was not finalized at the Jan. 9 meeting.

The takeaway

The expanded Food Farmacy sites will support at least 275 patient visits a month. Harris Health officials are looking to expand the program to its remaining health centers over time and as funding allows, according to court documents.

Get involved

Patients interested in more information can check out the program's website here or talk to a clinic provider or social worker for eligibility and referrals.