SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There is no prescription needed at a new “farmacy” in Lackawanna County. Geisinger opened its second farm-fresh pantry in our region, allowing diabetic patients to have a healthier diet.
When you walk inside this “farmacy” it looks like a grocery store. The food replaces medication for Type 2 diabetic patients in northeastern Pennsylvania. Geisinger cut the ribbon on its new fresh food farmacy in Scranton.
“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Diets don’t work. When I go shopping now, I stay out of the cookie aisle. I stay out of the chip aisle, I stay out of the soda aisle, I stay out of the ice cream aisle,” Tom Shicowich, an instructor of Geisinger’s diabetes self-management education said.
Shicowich came to celebrate the farmacy’s newest location as a patient and employee of the hospital. Since trading pills for food, he has lost 60 pounds and lowered his A1C from 10.9 to 6.9.
He now teaches a six-week program called diabetes self-management education for new patients entering the program.
“I was in their shoes. I was on that side of the table. Now I am on this side of the table so we both get to be on the same team,” Shicowich said.
“These patients come in one day a week for their grocery list and food and see a registered dietitian once a month,” Geisinger Fresh Food Farmacy pantry manager Synthia Koboska said.
Koboska says patients who are diabetic and food insecure are eligible for the program. They receive 10 healthy meals a week, including meals for members of their household.
“You’re looking across the kitchen table and you’ve got mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter eating stuff that you’re trying to stay away from, it makes it even tougher and we’re trying to make health easier,” Geisinger president and CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu said.
With one in every nine people in Pennsylvania having diabetes, the first farmacy opened three years ago in Shamokin as a four-year pilot program. It has expanded to the Electric City to help more than 500 people.
“It’s just incredible. I wish a lot of people a lot of luck. I know it’s going to bring a lot of healthy and happy people here and it’s really going to help the community out a lot,” Shicowich said.