With New Community Garden and Food Pharmacy, Tampa General Hospital and the City of Tampa Advance Health and Wellness Among Area Residents

Published: Jan 29, 2024

TGH CEO John Couris and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Celebrate Opening of Community Garden and Food Pharmacy as Part of TampaWell Initiative.


Tampa, FL (Jan. 29, 2024) – Marking a significant milestone in the TampaWell initiative, Tampa General and the City of Tampa officially welcomed residents to enjoy the benefits of healthy eating with support from a brand-new community garden and food pharmacy. John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General, and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor were joined by community leaders and area residents to cut the ribbon on the new TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy, both conveniently located at TGH Family Care Center Healthpark, which serves one of the most food insecure neighborhoods in the region.


“We’re on a mission to transform the health and wellness of our community. Healthy foods and regular physical activity play a pivotal role in both the prevention and the treatment of chronic health conditions, but not everyone has access to these essentials,” said Couris. “With this new community garden and food pharmacy, we’re working to ensure that residents of this community can benefit from nutritious foods, contributing to better health and a greater quality of life.”


TampaWell was activated by Tampa General Hospital in 2022, in partnership with the City of Tampa. It was the start of a wellness revolution in Tampa Bay with the goal of making Tampa the ultimate wellness destination in the United States. TampaWell embodies the mission of TGH to empower communities and transform lives, focusing on preventive health care efforts that are proven to reduce chronic disease and hospital readmissions. It also supports the city's most at-risk residents by addressing underlying social factors that impact health.


“Today it’s clear that TampaWell is more than a vision for our city, it is a reality. With the new community garden and food pharmacy, we are effectively increasing access to fresh and nutritious foods in areas where we can have the most meaningful impact,” said Mayor Castor. “We are grateful to Tampa General and our partners in the community for making these transformations possible.”


The TampaWell Food Pharmacy and Community Garden is built on the concept that “food is medicine.” With fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the adjacent community garden, patients have greater access to nutritious foods and the opportunity to learn how to grow healthy produce in a sustainable way. Patients at the TGH Family Care Center Healthpark who are diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension or obesity may request a referral from their primary care providers to select nutrient-rich foods from the food pharmacy, free of charge.


“With this community garden and food pharmacy, we can do more than treat patients for their symptoms. We’re working to change behavior and help establish new lifestyle routines that can potentially reduce and reverse chronic health conditions,” said Adam Smith, executive vice president and chief ambulatory care officer at Tampa General Hospital. “With greater access to nutritious foods, our patients can more effectively improve their overall health.”


The TampaWell Food Pharmacy and Community Garden is made possible with the collaboration and support of community partners, including the Feeding Tampa Bay Food Rx Program and the Tampa YMCA Veggie Van Produce Prescription Program. Eligible patients will also have the opportunity to participate in the Tampa YMCA’s evidence-based health initiatives, Diabetes Prevention Program or Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, as appropriate, as well as community-based nutrition and healthy eating classes.


The Food Pharmacy and Community Garden is just one of the many programs offered by TampaWell to connect residents in the region with resources for health and wellness. The TampaWell smartphone app, launched in 2023, is a free resource through which residents can explore wellness events and activities across Tampa Bay, access tips for a healthier life and find motivation to reach goals. In addition, the app tracks physical activity and monitors community-wide progress.


The TampaWell initiative is modeled after the Wellness Valley, an internationally acclaimed effort in the Romagna region of Italy that describes itself as “the first worldwide district of wellness and quality of life” in existence. Wellness Valley draws on some 250 public and private stakeholders in the region to support and amplify its mission of focusing on preventive health rather than the treatment of chronic disease.


TampaWell is a collaboration of more than 80 local organizations, including community groups, businesses, social services agencies and health care providers. While Tampa already 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 – data reveals that many area residents can benefit from greater access to health and wellness resources. Roughly 29% of adults in the city are sedentary, about 27% are obese, and 36% have hypertension.  TampaWell, together with its partners in the community, is working to address the gaps and improve access to essential services and programs. The goal is to create a culture of sustainable wellness and improve the overall health of the community.


The TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy is next to the TGH Family Care Center Healthpark, located at 5802 North 30th Street, Tampa, Florida.