A federally qualified health center that serves central Ohio noticed a trend: patients without access to healthy foods have a hard time leading healthy lives. With no interest from large grocery stores, Lower Lights Christian Health Center (LLCHC) has taken matters into its own hands. LLCHC will use IFF financing to renovate a portion of its 40,000-square-foot health center to open a grocery store, café, and commercial kitchen on Columbus’s west side.
The 5,000-square-foot, full-service grocery store will allow LLCHC clients to take health recommendations from their providers straight to the on-site store, where they can meet with a dietitian and discuss incorporating healthy, affordable foods into their daily lives. LLCHC will also offer pre-made healthy meals through a commercial kitchen and café. The organization hopes to create a social destination for the community – allowing neighbors to learn, shop, and socialize with one another in a healthy, affordable environment. The $1.4 million project will also create 17 full-time new positions at the health care center’s main campus.
Connecting health care with better access to healthy foods is a perfect fit for IFF, which as a lender and developer promotes partnerships between health care centers, grocery stores, and other fresh food providers that serve low-income neighborhoods. This is just one example of IFF’s research-based strategy to improve community health by addressing underlying social conditions – including lack of quality schools, stable housing, and good-paying jobs.
LLCHC aims to provide “whole person wellness” through comprehensive care, including primary and spiritual care. More than 13,000 patients visit providers at seven locations throughout central Ohio. Approximately 20 percent of patients are uninsured, and most pay as little as $10 per visit.