Aetna Better Health of Florida Donates $65,000 to Support New Community Garden and Food Pharmacy in East Tampa | Tampa General Hospital

Aetna Better Health of Florida Donates $65,000 to Support New Community Garden and Food Pharmacy in East Tampa

Published: Feb 15, 2024

The community hub was made possible through a collaboration with TampaWell, the City of Tampa and community partners.

Tampa, FL (Feb. 15, 2024) – Tampa General Hospital (TGH) has received a $65,000 donation from Aetna Better Health of Florida, part of Aetna® and the CVS Health® family, to support the new TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy.

The community hub, built on the concept that “food is medicine,” will enable patients at the TGH Family Care Center Healthpark greater access to nutritious foods and the opportunity to learn how to grow healthy produce in a sustainable way.

"At Tampa General, we want to be a driving force in creating a healthier community and making Tampa the ultimate wellness destination in the U.S. today,” said Frann Leppla, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer. “We’re incredibly grateful to Aetna Better Health of Florida for their generous investment in the new TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy which will have a significant impact on the health and well-being of residents in East Hillsborough County.”

TampaWell, activated by Tampa General Hospital in partnership with the City of Tampa, is a revolutionary health and wellness initiative focused on preventative health to reduce chronic disease and repeated hospitalizations, while supporting the city's most at-risk residents by addressing underlying social factors that impact health.

“Tampa General has done an excellent job at finding new and creative ways to care for the health of their community, so it was an easy decision to decide to partner with them,” said Aetna Better Health of Florida CEO Jennifer Sweet. “We are thankful for their efforts in pushing forward the idea that food is medicine through this garden, and we look forward to seeing the many ways it serves the people of Tampa.”

“Patients diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension or obesity often need better access to nutrient-rich foods, which our food pharmacy can provide free of charge,” said Rachel Bozich, ambulatory project manager at Tampa General Hospital. “Aetna’s support of the TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy gives us the opportunity to help our patients establish new lifestyle routines that can potentially reduce and reverse chronic health conditions over time.”

TampaWell is modeled after Wellness Valley, an internationally acclaimed effort in Italy that describes itself as “the first worldwide district of wellness and quality of life.” Wellness Valley draws on 250 public and private stakeholders in the region to support and amplify its mission of focusing on preventative health rather than treatment of chronic disease. Likewise, TampaWell has drawn upon the input and participation of 80-plus local organizations in Tampa, including community groups, businesses, social services agencies, and health care providers to create the overall strategy. Through extensive research, data analysis and referring to the Community Health Needs Assessment, TampaWell has confirmed Tampa has a good foundation for promoting wellness, including a young and growing workforce, a good economic environment and a solid infrastructure of fitness facilities and programs. Unfortunately, Tampa also has unhealthy habits that need to be addressed. Roughly 29% of adults are sedentary, about 27% are obese, and 36% have hypertension, a condition that can be managed through lifestyle change. TampaWell aims to improve these numbers by addressing the gaps in opportunities and improving access to necessary services and programs with the goal of creating a culture of sustainable wellness and health improvements throughout the  community.

The TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy is located next to the TGH Family Care Center Healthpark at 5802 N. 30th St. in Tampa. If you would like to learn more about supporting TampaWell, please reach out to the TGH Foundation at cpp@tgh.org.