Redwood City opens food pharmacy for low-income diabetes patients

A very different kind of pharmacy opened in Redwood City on Wednesday. It's called a food pharmacy and is designed to encourage low-income people suffering with diabetes, to eat a healthy diet.

It's the first of its kind ever to open in California. One woman was seen filling a medical prescription with groceries.

She has type II diabetes, often linked to diet. She spoke to us through an interpreter.

"Before I used to do a lot of fried food, [a] lot of pizza and hamburgers. I don't do that anymore," said Rose Amezcua.

Now at the food pharmacy, she can get healthier groceries.

With a doctor's prescription, low-income diabetes patients can get food at this special pantry inside the Samaritan House Health Clinic, for free.
The food is donated by the Second Harvest Food Bank, which says diabetes and other diseases run rampant among low-income people who often can't afford to eat healthier, or don't know how.

"At Second Harvest, our clients have told us that one out of every three adults that we serve are suffering from diabetes. That's more than three times the national average. So it is a big problem among low-income communities," said Kathy Jackson, director of the food bank.
"The only one who works is my husband. We pretty much live day by day with his salary," said Amezcua.

The food pharmacy officially opened on Wednesday as a pilot program expecting to provide 100 diabetes patients with a ticket to healthier eating habits. The pharmacy is located in the same building as the medical clinic.
"If they are running out of food at the end of the week they can get some food that is healthy for them rather than pick up something that is cheap and filling, but not that healthy," said Dr. Jason Wong.

Doctors say the cost of food is a lot less than the cost of treating the effects of a worsening disease.