Healthy Food Center at Allegheny Valley Hospital helps connect people with nutritious food |

Healthy Food Center at Allegheny Valley Hospital helps connect people with nutritious food |

A healthy diet includes a variety of foods that are good for you such as fruit, vegetables and quality protein sources. Eating more ‘healthy foods’ such as vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat milk can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. They are also a great source of fibre and kilojoules (energy).

Allegheny Valley Hospital patients who struggle with access to food will be able to shop at a free pantry at the Harrison facility.

The Healthy Food Center, which opened Wednesday, will serve patients with financial or social barriers to nutritious grocery items.

“The covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how fragile food security is in the U.S., and that there are many families among us who are vulnerable to hunger and poor nutrition,” said Colleen Ereditario, program manager.

Dubbed a “food pharmacy” by Allegheny Health Network, it is the sixth such center and considered a milestone to increase access to nutrition.

The center will serve patients by offering food items such as cereal, peanut butter and beans, along with education on disease-specific diets.

People also can make connections with community-
based resources to help address other social challenges they might face.

The center is situated on the first floor, near the cafeteria.

People can get up to three days’ worth of food for their household. They can shop at the food bank once a month for six months as part of their referral.

Patients are screened for food insecurity through a survey that asks whether they’ve been worried about adequate food supply in the past 12 months, or if they have experienced money woes that prevented them from purchasing enough groceries.

People also are questioned about barriers to food access, such as lack of transportation.

About 34 million Americans, including 9 million children, will face food insecurity this year, according to Feeding America.

The service is run through AHN’s Center for Inclusion Health.

The first similar site was rolled out in 2018 at AHN West Penn Hospital, followed by sites at Allegheny General, Jefferson, Saint Vincent and Forbes hospitals.

The facilities have served more than 27,500 patients and their family members with more than 275,000 meals.

“People who have healthier eating habits and access to nutritious foods have better overall health and have an easier time managing chronic health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” said AVH President Mark Rubino. “Allegheny Valley is uniquely positioned to make a difference for many food-insecure families who live in the communities we serve, and through our new Healthy Food Center, we’ll be better equipped to assist our patients and their families on their journeys toward improved health and wellness.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya by email at or via Twitter .


Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

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