Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program™ (FVRx™)

The fruit and vegetable prescription program fosters innovative partnerships between healthcare and community food providers to make a direct connection between increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and improved health among vulnerable community members.

We are proud to share Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program 2012 Outcomes – Factsheet and our 2012 Executive Summary.

To contact our Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program team, please click here.

FVRx™ is designed to provide assistance to overweight and obese children who are at risk of developing diet-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The program is intended to provide direct economic benefits to small and midsize farmers and bring additional resources into the local economies of underserved communities. Fruit and vegetable prescriptions are distributed by community healthcare providers and redeemed at participating farmers markets for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Each dollar invested in the FVRx program benefits the community three ways by: nourishing the consumer, boosting farmers’ revenue and supporting overall community health.

Program History

Wholesome Wave implemented a feasibility study in 2010. A total of 246 participants were served through work with three healthcare partners and a statewide network of farmers markets. Results indicated that the program had a significant effect on participants’ shopping and eating habits as well as on their knowledge about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Wholesome Wave expanded the program during its 2011 pilot season to sites in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Rhode Island. 2011 program data is available here. In 2012, the program expanded to include twelve sites in seven states throughout the United States and the District of Columbia. Results from the 2012 season will be released in the spring on 2013

During our annual FVRx meetings in 2012 and 2013, partners shared their insights and ideas about the future of the program. The robust discourse between physicians, nutritionists, researchers, market managers and community advocates offered a glimpse at the cooperation between healthcare providers and local food system advocates that the FVRx program programs foster.

January 2013 also marked the inaugural meeting of the FVRx Advisory Board. We sincerely thank the board members for their generous support. Click here to download the Biographies of our FVRx Advisory Committee Members.

  • Shikha Anand, MD, MPH, FVRx Medical Director and Lead Evaluator, Interim Advisory Board Chair
  • Gary Cohen, Co-Founder and President, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth
  • Linda Hudson, Sc.D., Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Mary Langowski, J.D., MPA, Partner and Chair, Health Care Policy and Regulatory Practice, DLA Piper
  • J. Robin Moon, DPH, MPH, MIA Chief Operating Officer, Grameen PrimaCare
  • Alyse B. Sabina, MPH, Program Officer Aetna Foundation
  • Michael Lambke, M.D., Medical Director, Redington-Fairview General Hospital
  • Michel Nischan, Co-founder, CEO and President, Wholesome Wave
  • Gus Schumacher, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of Policy, Wholesome Wave

Throughout 2013, Wholesome Wave will continue to operate a FVRx network while expanding to pilots in new clinical and retail settings in underserved communities. We will also turn our focus towards  strategic business planning to sustainably scale the FVRx intervention. We seek to develop FVRx into an integral and cost-effective model of obesity and diet-related disease prevention for vulnerable communities.

Program Description

Health care providers and farmers market partners work together to identify and enroll overweight and obese children as participants in FVRx. A primary care provider and nutritionist meet with each participant monthly to discuss and reinforce the importance of healthy eating. During each health care visit, the participant receives an FVRx prescription redeemable only for locally grown produce and valued at $1 per day per family member. The participants redeem the FVRx prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets at least every two weeks throughout the 4-6 month program.

Data collection and analysis is a vital component of the program and helps us distill best practices while providing “proof of concept” that helping people obtain the resources to purchase nutritious, fresh fruits and vegetables recommended by the medical community can improve health status. Primary care providers track participants’ weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) at each health care visit. Participants also fulfill the program’s survey requirements, gauging changes in consumer knowledge and shopping habits. Additionally, partnering farmers markets track prescription redemption information.

 

2012 Program Highlights:

  •  FVRx participants realized positive health outcomes during the 4-6 month FVRx seasons:
    • 55.3% of participants reported an increase in their fruit & vegetable consumption.
    • 37.8% of child participants decreased BMI
  • Shopping behaviors are changed and knowledge about local, healthy foods is improved
    • 53% of families came to the farmers market 8 or more times during the FVRx season

Additional data is available here: Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program 2012 Outcomes – Factsheet

FVRx Program Testimonials:

“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.”
-Mike Lambke, Healthcare Provider

“Farmers see the value to the [FVRx] program. They’re actually requesting this type of programming and strategizing around how to help low-income families.” -Sarah Smith, Farmer

“The FVRx program was such a blessing for me this summer. I love fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s hard to find them so fresh and well priced.” -Patient

“[FVRx] helped transform the Woonsocket market into one that was vibrant & economically viable for participating farmers.” -Kayla Ringelheim, Market Manager

“Families who took advantage of the program bought more fruits and veggies. Beyond this, the greatest success was in improving enrollment and attendance at monthly visits.”
-Suki Tepperberg MD, MPH, Codman Square Community Health Center, Massachusetts

Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Mentions:

  • District’s Needy Get Fruit and Vegetable Rx Washington Post
  • Broccoli is the Best Medicine? American University Radio WAMU 88.5
  • American Public Health Association, 2012 Annual Meeting, Changes in Diet and Shopping Behaviors Resulting from Farmers Market Nutrition Incentive and “Fruit and Vegetable Prescription” Programs for Underserved Consumers
  • Partnership for a Healthier America. Building a Healthier Future Summit 2013 (upcoming March 2013)
  • Association of State & Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors (ASTPHND) (upcoming March 2013).

If you are interested in learning more about how your organization could engage with Wholesome Wave’s programs, please fill out this form.  For media inquiries, please email agaudiano@wholesomewave.org.