Off the Muck Market partners with heart health program

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CANASTOTA — Following results from the fall, Off The Muck Market has once again partnered with the Upstate Heart Failure Program in order to provide heart failure patients and their families with boxes of fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

Off The Muck Market is a local organization based out of Canastota that’s committed to bringing produce straight to peoples’ doors, assisting the community, and supporting Upstate New York food producers.

Heart failure affects many residents locally, often making trips to the grocery store impossible or incredibly difficult. Due to their condition, that food should be low-sodium, which can be difficult to find on store shelves. Those who live in a food desert where there’s little access to fresh, healthy foods, face another challenge to achieving the diet they need. As heart failure patients recuperate at home, it’s essential that they have access to healthful foods as part of their recovery.

The food program, named “Nutritional Support of Heart Failure Patients,” is aiming to close the gap between patients and their access to fresh fruits and vegetables by delivering them directly to their doors. In addition, the Syracuse-based initiative provides instructions for how to prepare a healthy meal.

“A large portion of the Heart Failure patients in Onondaga County and CNY meet barriers to their health every day,” said Sherod Harris, transitional care case manager at Upstate.

He went on to share a quote from a heart failure patient in the community who previously received a box of fresh fruits and vegetables: “If I could eat like this every day, I wouldn’t be this bad-off. I have to take the bus or hope a friend can help out anytime I want some fruits and vegetables that are fresh.”

“Unfortunately this is not a unique scenario, which is why the Upstate Heart Failure Program is so grateful to the Upstate Foundation and Off The Muck Market for assisting with this community need,” Harris said.

“Higher sodium foods can lead to heart failure exacerbations and admission to the hospital which is directly correlated with the length of life for the patient, or mortality,” said Natasha Zmitrowitz, heart failure data coordinator at Upstate. “The time of the highest risk of readmission is the first 30 days after discharge. That is why it is so important to have these healthy foods available during that time.”

Last fall, officials were pleased with the results of sending food boxes to heart failure patients. Out of 46 patients who were provided with boxes, 72% did not experience an early readmission to the hospital, according to a report from Off the Muck Market. The rate of readmission of patients who, comparatively, did not receive food boxes, is unknown.

Carl Chappell, owner and founder of Off The Muck Market, says his company is very grateful to be working with the Upstate Heart Failure Program. “They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our community, and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership.”

The program is made possible through funding from the Upstate Foundation.

Jennifer Janes, director of Annual Giving and Donor Engagement for the Upstate Foundation, says: “Since the patients are also educated on the foods they receive and how to prepare them, they begin healthy habits designed to prevent future health complications and rehospitalizations. Many times, we only think of the care patients receive while they are hospitalized, however, this program gives patients what they need post-care and creates a foundation for a healthier lifestyle.”

The next leg of the program is currently underway.

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