Produce Prescription (PRx) brings low cost, healthy food once a week directly to where people are found – at their doctors’ appointment(s).
Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO)
As Ardis and Henry Crews often say, “there are only two people folks will listen to- their doctor and their minister”. Taking this to heart, their organization, Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO), started a Produce Prescription (PRx) program to address serious health issues in their community – obesity and food insecurity, or a lack of access to affordable and nutritious food.
GRRO’s Produce Prescription (PRx) program addresses both food insecurity and its effect on obesity in their community. Doctors that are part of the program write “prescriptions” for select patients to receive $10 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables per week over a five-month period. These prescriptions work like vouchers; and patients are able to pick up the food right outside their doctor’s office or the health department at set dates and times. This eliminates two of the biggest barriers to healthy food – cost and transportation. Participants also receive nutrition information, recipes, taste-tests, free cooking classes, and free exercise classes. By the end of the program, the combined total weight loss for 25 participants was 331.5 lbs, or an average of about ~13 lbs. per person; and 17 participants reported increased physical activity. There was also a general increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and stabilization of chronic medical conditions for some participants.
GRRO has also reached people outside the PRx program through their Mobile Farmers Market. The market was set up weekly outside local health departments and medical clinics to deliver produce to the PRx patients. Other patients, and even staff, were able to purchase low cost, fresh produce during regular deliveries.
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Here is how you can set up a Produce Prescription program in your community:
Partner with healthcare providers. Health practitioners will be able to help identify and recruit participants that will greatly benefit from the program. When meeting with potential partners, be clear about what the program does, how the program will benefit them and their patients, and what responsibilities they have (i.e: writing the “prescription”).
Location matters. Transportation is often reported as a barrier to access. To address this, consider delivering the produce directly to where the participants are (i.e: at their doctor’s appointment) or set up shop at a location that’s easily accessible by public transportation.
Source produce locally. If you aren’t growing your own food, partner with local farmers and organizations like GRRO to source your produce. Doing so will help contribute to the local food economy.
It isn’t enough to just bring fresh produce to people - teach them what to do with it:
Partner with your local Cooperative Extension for free cooking classes
Hand out recipe cards featuring that week’s produce
Hold a food demonstration and taste test