One box at a time: Passport, Bluegrass Harvest partnership aims to increase access to healthier food

MOLLY, ANNA, BRYCE, JACK, CARLA AND LOTHAR BAUMANN WITH LAZY EIGHT STOCK FARM IN PAINT LICK, KY.

When we talk about the health and wellness of Kentuckians, we have to take a step back and look at the social factors that have an impact on the overall health and well-being of individuals. When we take a closer look beginning in the home, and extending to our workplace, our schools and our neighborhoods, we can observe that social determinates have obvious differences in the health outcomes of individuals.

The pathway is not always an easy one for many residents living in communities where access and affordability are the major factors in the decision-making process of the foods they buy and eat. The conditions in which we live explain in part why some Kentuckians are healthier than others and why more are not as healthy as they could be.

Health Disparities

How can the healthcare community tackle such challenges that result out of these disparities? Disparities that have proven to show an increase in insurance rates, high incidents of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol? These social determinants also lead to negative impacts through low-term birth weights, hospital readmissions and emergency room visits.
One way to address this issue is by creating easier channels of access to healthier food options which have proven to positively influence overall health just by shifts in a diet change. One program that is looking to do just that is Bluegrass Harvest.

A Community Ventures company, Bluegrass Harvest was created to improve the health of all Kentuckians while lowering healthcare costs and increasing income for local farmers. This is accomplished through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or a weekly box of produce, which are sold and provided from May to October.

“Bluegrass Harvest has seen measurable results in their first two years of operation,” said Kevin Smith, CEO, and president of Community Ventures. “Now that the company has partnered with Passport Health to engage more communities, the growth opportunities for this initiative are innumerable.”

A new sponsorship program has been launched between Passport Health and Bluegrass Harvest to provide CSAs to residents in the Lexington’s East End to tackle these issues targeting lower resource families.

The program will seek to provide education and support to change eating habits and lower riskier health behaviors. Twenty weeks of locally grown produce will be provided at no charge to identified residents in this first of a kind program.

With Passport as its partner, residents will also have access to regular sessions to support them on this fresh food journey. Residents will be invited to attend fun events over the five months. From cooking demonstrations and tastings, exercise classes, to nutrition and diet tips, all of this will be provided free of charge to residents and their families participating in Bluegrass Harvest.

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