Newswise — PORTAGE COUNTYUniversity Hospitals (UH) Portage Medical Center is opening a UH Food for Life Market to set patients up for success in nutrition and dietary education. A formal ribbon cutting will be held on Feb. 17 at noon. The UH Food for Life Market is part of a holistic approach to addressing food insecurity and the medical conditions, including chronic health conditions, that are impacted by nutrition and access to healthy food. 

Now extending into UH Portage, in cooperation with the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, the UH Food for Life Market is the only medically-based nutrition program in Portage County. It will be stocked with a variety of nutritious foods, including whole grains, dairy, fresh and frozen produce, canned fruits, vegetables and meat products.

“As a cardiologist at UH Portage, I recognize the role of a healthy diet in preventing and reversing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions,” explained Saneka Chakravarty, MD, who is president elect of the medical staff at UH Portage and a lead advocate for UH Food for Life Market at UH Portage. “As I meet with patients day to day, it is evident that they need additional assistance and a place I can refer them to develop and maintain healthy nutrition habits. I’m looking forward to offering these new resources, and helping patients enhance their quality of life.”

All patients at UH Portage identified as food insecure will receive a referral from their healthcare provider to visit the UH Food for Life Market. If they meet the requirements set by the food bank, the patient will receive a week’s worth of healthy food at no cost, as well as a one-on-one consultation with a registered dietitian. Healthy recipes, meal preparation tips and cooking demonstrations will also be offered.

To make the opening of the market possible, the UH Portage Medical Executive Committee donated $50,000 for start-up funding for year one. Each medical center within UH has a Medical Executive Committee comprised of physician leaders who are elected into different roles to review finances, quality measures and policies, and also complete credentialing for providers. In addition, Dr. John and Mindy Gusz gave a personal donation with a charge to other physicians to match their $1,000 gift.

“UH Portage has an amazing medical staff, who have led this charge, through innovative thinking as well as personal donations, to ensure our community has the resources they need to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle,” said Bill Benoit, President of UH Portage Medical Center. “As much as we enjoy seeing our patients, our primary goal is to educate them on the importance of preventive medicine so they can manage their health and wellness outside of our doors.”

UH opened the first Food for Life Market, housed within the Otis Moss, Jr. Health Center, in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood in October 2018. The area had been designated a food desert, defined as an impoverished area with limited access to a grocery store, by Cuyahoga County Board of Health's Creating Healthy Communities program and the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. Since opening, the market at Otis Moss Jr. Health Center has distributed nearly 70,000 pounds of food to 1,100 individuals.

“The UH Food for Life Market focuses on the direct connection between food and a person’s health,” said Anne Leach, registered dietitian and Director, Clinical and Community Nutrition at Sodexo Healthcare, who has worked on behalf of UH to establish the UH Food for Life Market. “UH has implemented a preventive food as medicine model to address food insecurity, which we know, if prolonged or repeated, can have negative health consequences.”

The UH Portage location will initially be open Wednesdays and Thursdays by appointment only, and expects to serve 50 families per month.


About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 20 hospitals (including 5 joint ventures), more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute, part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH’s vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization’s unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit