Cancer patients in Phoenix will soon have healthy meals delivered to their homes — by medical students. First- and second-year medical students enrolled in the Culinary Medicine Capstone Course at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix will partner with the Joy Bus, a Valley-based nonprofit organization, to deliver its signature “More Than a Meal” chef-inspired meals and caring conversations to cancer patients. With the additional volunteer resources from the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, the Joy Bus will increase the health and wellness home visits from 50 to 100 per week, doubling the potential reach with the help of the medical students.
“With this collaboration, we are training medical students to improve their ability to care for patients with cancer as future doctors — while also expanding the resources available to the Joy Bus participants,” said Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH. Dr. Marvasti (“Dr. Shad”) serves as the founding director of the Culinary Medicine Program, director of Public Health, Prevention and Health Promotion and associate professor at the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.
With every Joy Bus meal delivered, medical students will also include an activity placemat. The placemat reflects PES TM — purpose, engagement and socialization — a theme-based value system designed by Van Nguyen, director of the SunTree Adult Day Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The placemats help seniors stay engaged with their community of friends, relatives and care partners. With support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Cynthia Standley, PhD, director of the Art in Medicine program at the college, helped to design a collaborative arts section for creative engagement. In addition, a series of brain games, puzzles, trivia and nutrition information are printed onto four different kinds of placemats, all of which help patients regularly achieve PES.
Dr. Shad founded the Culinary Medicine Program at the College with the goal of blending the art of cooking with the science of medicine. The number one risk factor for premature disease and death for the past 20 years is related to a person’s diet. Yet, most medical schools only provide 19 curriculum hours of nutrition on average over the four years of medical school. The Capstone Course provides an integrated experience for medical students to apply knowledge from their coursework and now includes the Culinary Medicine Program as one of the required Capstone experiences. The Joy Bus participants will not only benefit from the one-on-one health and wellness visits several times a week, but also the medical knowledge the students possess.
“By training future physicians and health professionals in this program, patients and communities will be empowered to utilize food as medicine in preventing and treating the diseases of our time,” said Dr. Shad. Dr. Shad is a practicing physician who routinely gives his patients food prescriptions to help prevent, treat and even reverse many chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Since 2011, the Joy Bus has been making the Valley a tastier, happier place with their “More Than a Meal” program. The placemat was developed in collaboration with the Program of Art in Medicine at the college and the School for Seniors, an organization that currently distributes about 17,000 activity placemats to senior centers, food delivery services and assisted living facilities in the United States and Canada.
About the College
Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 593 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,400 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.
BY: KIMBERLY A. NICHOLS, MLA