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New York Hospital Program Prescribing Fresh Produce To Obese Patients

Union Square Farmers Market

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” is one of Hippocrates’ most memorable quotes about the value of nutrition. In a day and age where there is a pill for everything and often a side effect to accompany it, we have to admire the latest work of two New York City hospitals. Both the Harlem Hospital Center and Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx have joined the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, which helps bring fresh produce to obese residents.

Created by Wholesome Wave and GrowNYC, two local non-profits, the program provides qualifying patients with $1 in “Health Bucks” per day for each family member over a minimum 4 month period, which can be used to purchase local fresh produce. Each patient goes in for a monthly check-up for prescription renewals, BMI recordings, and nutritional counseling.

Not only does this help patients, but it’s also good news for local farmers. There are 140 farmers markets throughout the city that accept Health Bucks, and according to Wholesome Wave, 53% of families have visited these markets more than 8 times during the program.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding (produce?) as to whether or not it actually works. According to some 2012 program highlights, 55% of patients increased their fruit and veggie consumption and 37.8% of children in the program decreased their BMI. That sounds like a pretty good start.

Would you like to see a program like this in your city? Do you think temporary participation in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program will help create positive long-term food and lifestyle choices?

Image CC licensed by Ceiling: Union Square Farmers Market, New York City
Via Ecorazzi


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  • Anonymous

    One, why don’t they do that for all their patients? There is a significant number of people who are at ‘normal’ weight but who are in fact, clinically obese. Second, does the hospital really think this will make a difference?