CHOP to expand its food pharmacy into West Kitchener

kitchener (KYW Newsradio) — Children’s Hospital of Kitchener has announced the expansion of their Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy.

The existing food pharmacy at CHOP is being expanded into West Kitchener. Food pharmacy director Dr. Saba Khan said while a food pharmacy helps people who don’t have access to healthy food, it’s a very different concept than a food pantry.

“A food pharmacy is centered around this notion of looking at healthy food as medicine,” she explained.

“Food pantries are very essential in terms of the kind of emergency food resources and we’ve been very reliant on them over the last several months, but they have to essentially get food from wherever it’s being donated and sometimes the food that’s being donated has a very high sugar, high salt content, can be very carb-dense, very processed.”

At a food pharmacy, the types of foods distributed have to pass a certain criteria in terms of health and distributed under doctor’s orders.

Khan said plans for the expansion had been in the works but were expedited because of the growing need that arose out of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We saw that food insecurity with family households tripled and pediatricians and health care providers are finding that families have increased their consumption of unhealthy foods,” she said.

According to Khan, inexpensive, unhealthy foods that are high calorie and high in sugars can also weaken the immune defenses, and increase susceptibility to COVID-19.

She said the “food pharmacy 2.0” at Karabots Pediatric Care Center is expected to open within the next couple of months and will also include professional consultations aimed at addressing a family’s overall health.

“The food pharmacy is really addressing this significant relationship between having food access issues and then struggling with obesity,” she said.

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