Growing Hope, a program aimed at increasing the amount of fresh produce available to cancer patients facing food insecurity, was implemented in two West Virginia (WV) cancer centers in 2022 with funding from Mountains of Hope (MOH). Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC) and Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) Cancer Center both partnered with local WV farms and implemented the Growing Hope program in 2022 and sustained through 2023.

Growing Hope began at MBRCC and Homestead Farm Center, a farm in Grafton, WV, that provides education, employment, and a safe living environment to individuals with disabilities, in 2022. Homestead Farm Center grew a variety of fruits and vegetables and used them to provide meal kits to cancer patients identified by nutritionists and social workers at MBRCC every week from May-September of 2022. Each meal kit contained a vegetable or fruit of the week, a recipe card, healthy snacks, and all the non-staple ingredients needed to make the recipe on the provided recipe card. Each meal kit held enough food to feed a family of 3-4.

In 2022, MOH provided a second round of funding to Homestead Farm Center to continue this program through the 2023 growing season. Homestead Farm Center continued to provide the meal kits with the addition of handmade get-well cards for each patient. Over the course of two years, this program has:

  • served 143 patients,
  • delivered 176 meal kits, and
  • reached individuals from over 25 counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

MOH’s Quality of Life Subcommittee used their yearly subcommittee funds in 2021 to fund the Growing Hope program at the CAMC Cancer Center in partnership with Gritt’s Farm, a local, family-owned farm in Buffalo, WV. Gritt’s Farm provided 20 boxes of varied produce to CAMC Cancer Center every week from July-September of 2022, and CAMC Cancer Center provided laminated recipe cards for each produce box. These produce boxes and recipe cards were provided to cancer patients who had been pre-identified by patient navigators. In 2022, CAMC’s Foundation provided the funding for the 2023 growing season. Across two years, this program has:

  • served 237 patients,
  • delivered 282 produce boxes,
  • and reached individuals from over 19 counties in West Virginia.

West Virginia University’s Foundation will fund MBRCC’s Growing Hope program for the 2024 season and beyond meaning that both cancer centers are now sustaining this program without outside grant funding. MOH plans to expand this program to 2-3 additional cancer centers across the state for the 2024 growing season.