They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But in some low-income neighborhoods in New York, Washington D.C., and a growing number of states, it’s the doctors who are bringing apples to their patients. Through the Wholesome Wave Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program, FVRx, doctors write a prescription for at least one serving of fresh produce per day per person to people enrolled in the program.
FVRx takes it a step further, however, and actually provides the fruit and vegetables through local, participating farmers’ markets. For a family of four, it amounts to about $28 a week, which even in trendy California farmer’s markets (FVRx serves individuals here as well) could buy several bunches of beautiful leafy greens, numerous pounds of fresh fruit, and a generous portion of whatever vegetables happen to be in season.
Bonus: unlike drugs, fruit and veggies generally come with no unwanted side effects.
The Origin of Prescriptions for Fruits and Vegetables
Chef Michel Nischan created Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization, when his two sons were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He knew that this disease could be reversed with good nutrition and exercise, but for many low-income families, access to fresh foods was limited. Nischan worked with doctors to connect particularly vulnerable patients – overweight and obese children and pregnant women – with the program.
In addition to the actual foods the program provides, it also offers nutrition counseling and goal setting through participating doctors, as well as instruction on how to prepare foods healthfully. Healthcare provider Mike Lambke, says, “The program gives patients the ability to take a risk to do something good for themselves. It gives them control over their lives and the power to make healthy choices.”
And, if the numbers say anything, the program seems to be working.
In 2012, FVRx saw that:
â–º Nearly 40 percent of children in the program decreased their BMI
â–º Over 50 percent of families visited a farmers market eight or more times during the four- to sixmonth season
â–º 90 percent of participants were told about the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables by their healthcare provider at every visit.
Learn more about the ability of fighting disease with food by reading how one woman cooked her way out of chronic disease.
“The program gives patients the ability to take a risk to do something good for themselves. It gives them control over their lives and the power to make healthy choices.”