Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CNDH: Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program

By Helen Naylor

 From its inception in 2011 with the pilot program consisting of 380 patients in six sites across four states, the success of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is quite evident, having expanded to 12 sites in 7 states and Washington, D.C. in just one year.  So what is the FVRx program?  Exactly what the name suggests.  It is a collaborative and integrative program through the “WeCan!” initiative where healthcare providers and farmers markets partner together to provide increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables, measuring the impacts of increased consumption among underserved community members.

Each week, FVRx participants receive prescriptions (that cover the cost) for fresh produce that they can redeem at local farmers markets, some of which can be found on site at the healthcare clinics.  The idea is that the weight of a legitimate prescription by a healthcare practitioner, which also covers the cost of $1 per day per family member (about $120 per month), would incentivize participants and mitigate some of the barriers to eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
“One of the reasons why we believe the FVRx program is so successful is its community-based approach, which encourages productive and lasting partnerships between doctors, nutritionists, community health workers, farmers, farmers market operators, and community members.” – Michel Nischan, Wholesome Waves CEO, President & Founder.

This year, the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences has joined the partnership with Wholesome Waves, DC Greens and Unity Healthcare.  Three members from CAUSES’ Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health along with three students in the Nutrition and Food Science Program (NUFS) contribute to the fight against obesity and diet-related chronic disease by conducting monthly nutrition education and food demonstration activities that highlight fruits and vegetables that can be found at the local farmer’s markets.  

Currently, the CNDH staff and NUFS students serve four Unity Healthcare clinics. You can find Sapna Batheja at the Walker Jones clinic on Fridays; Teresa Turner, Helen Naylor and Kendra Hill-Bailey at the Minnesota Avenue clinic on every other Wednesday; Loren Bockweg and Christine Ju at the Parkside clinic on the second Thursday of each month; and Helen Naylor at the Upper Cardozo clinic on the last Wednesday of each month.

With its significant and sustainable impact made visible by the increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and reduction in BMI seen with patients, the FVRx program shows no sign of slowing down and continues to grow – and the University of the District of Columbia continues to do its part in striving for healthy people and healthy cities.

For more information, contact Helen Naylor at

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