Tackling Food Deserts With Prescribed Fruits and Veggies. Over 23 million people live without access to fresh produce. In the United States, low-income urban areas are often susceptible to these conditions, creating areas labeled as food deserts. The obvious implications of a diet devoid of fresh food is a nutritional imbalance that can lead to obesity and other health conditions. Additionally, there are negative environmental and economic implications associated with communities devoid of healthy and sustainable food choices.
Working to supply low-income areas with affordable local food can change a community’s food culture. When consumers can afford fresh produce, demand increases, which in turn supports local farmers and more sustainable food infrastructures. With an increased supply of healthy food options, healthier and more sustainably aware communities are created. The question is, how to make these types of foods more affordable. Wholesome Wave thinks they have an answer.
Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit that works to help low-income communities gain access to better food options, is working with healthcare providers to develop a new program. It’s called the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or FVRx, and it allows doctors to prescribe children in overweight communities with discounted fruits and vegetables. Participants receive redeemable prescriptions that can be traded in for affordable produce at participating grocery stores. The program has been a success, promoting healthy eating habits and awareness of sustainable food options for over 5,000 low-income families.
The biggest thing I’ve seen is the FVRx program gives patients the ability to take a risk and to make change. In talking with parents, what I realized was that they wanted to come to the farmers market but didn’t have the money. Now they have a reason to go. – Health Care Provider
To learn more about food deserts visit the USDA’s site here, and to learn more about Wholesome Wave’s work visit their site.