Akron Children’s Hospital has launched an educational garden and food pantry

A patient visiting a dietitian at Akron Children’s Hospital is taken to a garden teeming with bees, vegetables and herbs. There, the dietician educates the patient and his family about nutrition and educates them about the uses of various vegetables that are easily grown in Ohio.

Once the crops are ready for harvest, they are brought to the hospital’s food pantry where food-insecure patients can access them as needed.

This is the vision for Akron Children’s Hospital’s Food Farm and Education and Wellness Garden launched during Tuesday’s ceremony.

“Nothing a child is quite as engaged as being able to touch, smell, see and talk sort of in that space,” said Mike Fulino, director of support services at the hospital. “Our job is to make these kids comfortable and for parents to feel comfortable with vegetables, produce and gardening.”

Foligno hopes to start bringing patients to the park by the end of the summer. The plan is to use the garden for educational purposes during future summers and then move the harvest to Food Farmacy’s stores.

State Representative Emilia Sykes and Michael Folino, director of support services at Akron Children's Hospital, see Food Farmacy.

The farm food pilot program is being funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid to the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank guaranteed by Representative Emilia Sykes. The grant aims to support food insecure chronically ill patients and their families who live in Summit County.

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“It would be great to have a food bank,” Sykes said after the ceremony. “But when you educate and educate someone about their diet and lifestyle and then force them to go to another building or another place, they give up. This makes it easy and helps people make those changes.”

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