The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program
Just when I lost faith in the national establishment’s ability to promote healthy food policies, I came across this incredible news.
According to a news release from New York City Office of the Mayor, two new initiatives have been launched to “expand New Yorkers access to farmers markets’ produce and increase healthy eating.”
The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is a program under which a doctor and nutritionist assess the health and nutritional habits of patients and families at risk for obesity and give patients “prescriptions” to consume more fruits and vegetables. FVRx patients at the two hospitals will then receive Health Bucks, which are coupons from the Human Resources Administration and the Health Department that can be redeemed for fruit and vegetables at all New York City farmers markets.
New York City, which has the largest municipal farmers market SNAP incentive program in the nation, is making fruit and vegetables more affordable than ever by expanding the Health Bucks program – which provides $2 coupons for fresh produce at farmers markets. This year, Health Bucks will make more than $560,000 worth of fruits and vegetables available to low-income New Yorkers, an increase of 32% over the previous season.
Wholesome Wave Executive Vice President Gus Schumacher:
“Our vision for the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is that it will lead us all to view farmers markets as pharmacies providing access to healthy affordable locally-grown fruits and vegetables”
The pilot program is being tested at two medical center that serve populations with a high rate of obesity and meet several criteria for the FVRx program, including proximity to farmers markets participating in the Health Bucks program. HHC hospitals host numerous farmers markets throughout the City in partnership with Harvest Home and Greenmarket. Shoppers can pay for their fresh fruits and vegetables using EBT cards (food stamps), Health Bucks, Green Checks, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons or WICcoupons.