The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Alliance Medical Ministry share a special bond of a long partnership and a shared mission of looking comprehensively at a problem and determining holistic solutions. For the Food Shuttle, it’s hunger relief; for Alliance Medical Ministry, it’s healthcare. And as we all know, those often go hand in hand.
The partnership between the Food Shuttle and Alliance Medical Ministry started roughly eight years ago when the Food Shuttle helped implement Alliance’s very first community garden at their facilities on the corner of Donald Ross Drive and New Bern Ave.
Alliance is a primary care clinic serving uninsured working adults, filling the gap between those on Medicaid or Medicare and those with insurance. They take it further than just primary care visits, providing specialist services, prescription benefits, mental health care, and holistic care through health and wellness programing… taking an interventionist approach to improving their patients’ health and well-being.
Alliance’s community garden and Seed to Supper classes, taught in conjunction with the Food Shuttle are just a few of the ways they do this.
“Gardening is a tremendous crux of exercise, mental health and nutrition. You’re getting outside, you’re moving more, you’re getting more sunlight. The class portion of it gives participants a sense of excitement around what they are eating and growing” says Jesse Crouch, garden and wellness program director.
Alliance’s Seed to Supper is now taught two times each spring to both Alliance patients and community members. It’s a five-week beginners gardening course, teaching individuals how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, build backyard gardens, and sustain their harvest. The most recent class started the first week in April and is the first taught completely in Spanish.
“It provides a sense of community between patients. It’s easy to go into the doctors office and hear you need to cut down on salt or eat more vegetables but it becomes hard when you go home and you don’t have people with you in that dietary mission.” says Jesse. “With our classes and garden, patients now have a community to go on that journey with them.”
The food harvested from the garden is used in these classes, given to community gardeners and given out in Alliance’s clinic to patients.
Jesse has been with Alliance Medical Ministry for almost two years, and previously was an incubator farmer on the Food Shuttle Farm. He runs the garden, coordinates yoga and Zumba classes and teaches Cooking Matters curriculum to patients, also in partnership with the Food Shuttle’s Community Health Education.
The partnership between Alliance Medical Ministry and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is really what the Feed. Teach. Grow mission is all about. It takes all types of services, partnerships and people to better a community – and Alliance is doing just that.