RX for Fresh Fruits & Veggies to Cure Hunger, Control Diabetes

Unique Partnership to Help Idahoans Improve Health

Idaho Primary Care Association (IPCA) & Terry Reilly Health Services have launched a pilot project made possible with a $125,000 grant from RCHN Community Health Foundation.

When the grocery store serving neighborhoods near Terry Reilly Health Services 16th Street location in Nampa closed its doors it created a vast food desert in a community with limited transportation options.  In response IPCA, Terry Reilly Health Services and other community partners are launching the "Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program" (FVRx). 

The new initiative, serving Nampa's 1st and 16th street communities, is made possible by the generous grant from RCHN Community Health Foundation. 

FVRx has three objectives:

  • Encourage providers to promote their patients' health by writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables
  • Empower patients to acquire foods and cooking skills to create lasting lifestyle change
  • Benefit food retailers and farmers by increasing demand for local fruits and vegetables

"A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is a cure for hunger and the best medicine to control diabetes and stay healthy," said IPCA CEO Yvonne Ketchum-Ward. "This grant will help us test the best ways to get fresh foods to people who live between the railroad and the freeway, which is one of the worst food deserts in Nampa."

Using registered dieticians and community health workers to staff the pilot program, the health center will work in collaboration with the Nampa Mobile Farmer's Market, St. Luke's Health System, and St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The program will initially target people with diabetes, those at risk, and their families. If successful, IPCA plans to work with other health centers to expand the program across the state.

"Dr. Jack Geiger, the founding father of the community health center movement, famously said 'The last time we looked in the book for a specific therapy for malnutrition, it was food,'" said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. "We are pleased to support this exciting project that recognizes food as medicine, and share lessons learned from this innovative pilot to improve care for high-risk communities."

IPCA is one of five grantees in five states to receive $125,000 each to launch an innovative approach to improve community health. Other projects include initiatives to reduce ER visits and hospitalizations among complex, high-use patients at Fenway Health in Boston, MA; integrate primary care with mental health, substance abuse treatment, and social support services at ACCESS Community Health Network in Chicago, IL; improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for those at risk for diabetic and other chronic illnesses at Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, AZ; and identify and tackle housing triggers of asthma and other health conditions at St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles, CA.

 

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