Wellness prescription includes free veggies
Northwest Louisiana Interfaith Pharmacy shares bounty with clients
December 4, 2013
By Melody Brumble
Lena Gipson gets a bag of produce along with prescriptions at least once a month at Northwest Louisiana Interfaith Pharmacy in Shreveport.
Gipson, of Arcadia, turned to the organization a few months ago for medicine to help control her diabetes. Now 59, the retired educator was diagnosed at age 45. She doesn’t want to end up with the same complications that troubled her grandfather, who also battled diabetes.
“They didn’t make a vegetable I don’t like,” Gipson said, laughing, as she headed to raised beds behind the pharmacy at 909 Olive St. She picked out broccoli and a purple cabbage while others browsed among the lettuce and greens. “That was my pride and joy!” joked executive director Janet Martin as Gipson tucked the cabbage into a bag. “I came out and visited it every day.”
Martin and volunteers tend eight raised beds with help from Master Gardener Rosemary Cole. The organization started with two raised beds in 2012 and built six more with a grant from the Master Gardeners organization. The Times’ Joy Fund will help keep the gardens growing with seasonal offerings.
Fresh food is part of the organization’s effort to help clients conquer or control chronic illnesses with diet and lifestyle changes as well as medicine in a wellness program. Clients receive recipes and have access to a health coach and can participate in small-group support sessions. “We have a vegetable of the month, and we’ll have recipes and samples of the vegetables for everyone to take home,” Martin said. “When we have a bumper crop of something, we also put it out front for anyone to take.” The pharmacy gardens inspired Gipson to build her own bed in the spring.
“I’ve done small beds before, tomatoes and peppers, but nothing this big,” she said. “I have all these seeds. I’m going to grow something.”
Volunteer Rosemary Cole picks cabbage for Lena Gipson at Northwest Louisiana Interfaith Pharmacy in Shreveport. The vegetables are grown and given away to some of the pharmacy’s clients. JIM HUDELSON/THE TIMES