Chicago, IL - Yesterday PCC Community Wellness Center (PCC) held a groundbreaking ceremony for its latest project to improve health outcomes—the PCC Austin Community Farm. Located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood in an 8,000-square-foot lot across the street from PCC Austin Family Health Center, the farm was made possible by a $350,000 grant from the Humana Foundation. PCC is partnering with the Chicago Botanic Garden, which will provide participants from its urban agricultural program, Windy City Harvest, to install and maintain the farm.
Located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood in an 8,000-square-foot lot across the street from PCC Austin Family Health Center, the farm was made possible by a $350,000 grant from the Humana Foundation. PCC is partnering with the Chicago Botanic Garden, which will provide participants from its urban agricultural program, Windy City Harvest, to install and maintain the farm.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, representatives from Chicago Botanic Garden, Humana and PCC shared with more than 75 attendees the importance of urban agriculture and establishing a community farm which will promote physical activity and healthy eating. “PCC is building this farm so that our patients will have the opportunity to make the types of healthy choices we recommend in the exam room," said Robert J. Urso, PCC president and CEO. “Through this endeavor, we have an opportunity to transform not just patients, but a whole neighborhood through ongoing exposure to urban agriculture and the provision of essential resources.”
Bechara Choucair, M.D., commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, who spoke at the event, stressed that such healthy choices are important in the reduction of overweight and obesity, particularly among children. William Snyder, market vice president for Illinois, presented on behalf of Humana, which chose PCC as the Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient because of the program’s uniqueness, sustainability and potential to create long term benefits for health outcomes. Also participating in the event were: United States Congressman Danny K. Davis; Chicago Botanic Garden President and CEO Sophia Shaw; Alderman Jason C. Ervin, 28th Ward; and Alderman Emma Mitts, 37th Ward.
Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, which lacks adequate access to affordable and healthy food, has been designated by the U. S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration as a medically underserved area. Nearly 53 percent of its 98,500 residents live at or below the federal poverty level. The PCC Austin Community Farm responds to these issues by providing residents with fresh, affordable produce and allowing eight families each year to plant food in their own personal plots. The PCC Austin Community Farm also will include an education component focusing on nutrition, physical activity, and gardening techniques. PCC and Windy City Harvest will lead these monthly training sessions to promote health and well-being. In addition, PCC will identify two individuals to enroll in the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program. The apprenticeships will prepare the students to compete for the farm’s seasonal coordinator position.