AHN, PNC Bank team up to create produce garden to promote healthy living

In Monroeville, down the road from Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital, you’ll find 1,400 square feet of tomatoes, herbs and other fruits and vegetables planted last spring by AHN to help fight food insecurity.

A community partnership between AHN, PNC Bank and other entities, the produce garden is a live extension of the hospital’s Healthy Food Center and has been in the works for months. Now, patients can enjoy the fruits of its labor.

“When you pop a fresh tomato into somebody’s hand or mouth or when you say, ‘Hey this came from a garden,’ they take interest in it,” said Chris Kosin of GaiaScape LLC. “This has been an absolute dream come true.”

The garden acts as a food pharmacy for those who struggle to manage their health conditions, and Dr. Mark Rubino says education is key. Rubino said it’s an all-hands-on-desk effort to try to teach patients the proper eating habits, helping them to continue down the right path.

“This is what’s getting you in trouble, this is what’s getting you in the hospital, this is an alternative and being able to hand them the fresh vegetables…they’re willing to do it,” Rubino said. “It’s expensive to eat well, right? It’s a little bit more money…it’s a lot more money. So to be able to supply that food to them really – that’s the tipping point. That’s what makes the difference.”

The hospital hopes this harvest will help dozens of patients in the coming weeks.

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