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Free food and health screenings in Cleveland's Central neighborhood aim to improve community health

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St. Vincent Charity Medical Center
ReFresh Pantry will take place on the fourth Tuesday of the month, from noon to 2 p.m.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank are teaming up this summer to provide fresh produce and lunches to people in Cleveland's Central neighborhood.

The area is a food desert, which is why bringing fresh, healthy food to residents is important, said Leslie Andrews, a diabetes coordinator with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

"Central does not currently have a grocery store, so residents are using corner stores for most of their food," Andrews said.

Healthy food is part of a healthy community, and the event will try to improve the neighborhood's health in other ways as well, like through health screenings, she said.

"Things like unsafe neighborhoods, poor housing conditions, chronic stress, lack of transportation, access to nutritious foods, really all contribute to their well-being," Andrews said.

A person's income has an impact on how healthy they are, and poverty is one of the greatest indicators, Andrews said.

"80 percent of the factors that influence a person's health really happens outside the walls of a hospital," she said.

Doctors will be available at the event to answer health-related questions. There will also be cooking demonstrations and people who can connect residents to resources.

The ReFresh Pantry events will take place from noon to 2 pm. on the fourth Tuesday of the month through September.

The organizers also plan to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at future events.