Farm at Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center helps feed patients facing food insecurity

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (WPVI) – A Montgomery County hospital is helping transform the lives of its patients beyond their stay by helping them make dietary changes.

Behind the Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood is the Deaver Wellness Farm. For farmer Breah Banks, the reward of tending the garden is knowing the impact it has on the community.

“When they notice something new that they haven’t seen before, like, ‘Oh, that’s how celery grows? Is this what pumpkin looks like?’ I love asking questions like this and seeing people connect with their food in this way,” Banks said.

Main Line Health Medical Center Lankenau is one of the few hospitals in the entire country with its own farm, situated on a fenced lot behind the emergency room. It was a parking lot until April 2016 when the first plant went into the ground.

“Since then I think we’ve raised almost 58,000 pounds of food,” said Maureen Krouse, who manages community health and public relations for the hospital.

She says the healthcare system has seen some benefits in having their own garden. First, it could be an educational tool. The hospital offers school-age children an agricultural education opportunity.

“Beans provide nitrogen and nourish the soil for the corn,” Banks explains of which plants go where.

Second, the food could help patients.

“We save lives,” said Krouse. “Food is medicine. Food affects every chronic disease out there. Food affects your health and only your well-being.”

Most of the groceries go directly to the patients’ homes. Each week, staff pack 40 bags of fresh vegetables that are hand-delivered to patients suffering from food insecurity.

“Seeing the faces of the patients who come out with a bag of food and their first question is, ‘Is it for me? I can bring it home and there’s no cost?’ You just know how much of an impression you’ve made,” said Krouse.

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