Pilot program helping at-risk people with food and care

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Essential trips to the grocery store, even the doctor’s office, have become a dangerous task for our older population during this pandemic.

To help address the issue of food security during this time, North Memorial – Camden started a pilot program to help people with those worries.

Called "Food as Medicine," this program has weekly deliveries to those with chronic health conditions. Many of the recipients are older than 50 years old and live alone, though those are not requirements to be part of the program.

North Market, a program of Pillsbury Untied Communities, is helping with the groceries.

Launched by North Memorial Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, it’s currently helping at-risk people who get care at North Memorial – Camden. The delivery drivers are community paramedics and also check on the well-being of those in need.

“We all love to feel like we’re doing something to help people manage those chronic diseases,” said John Riley, one of the leading community paramedics in the program. “[Also] help them maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

On top of checking vitals, paramedics also make sure they have and are taking the proper medication.

But beyond the physical care, and fresh food, Riley says a big part of the visit is just being there to say ‘hello’ and talk about how they’re coping through these odd days.

"It’s nice to go somewhere and really feel like what you’re doing is appreciated,” Riley says. “And, it always is.”