Doctors in LA, Houston and Miami prescribing fruits & vegetables: Partnership between Target and Wholesome Wave expands.

Doctors in LA, Houston and Miami prescribing fruits & vegetables: Partnership between Target and Wholesome Wave expands.

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Doctors in LA, Houston and Miami prescribing fruits & vegetables: Partnership between Target and Wholesome Wave expands.

July 7, 2017
     
Family Shopping at Target in Los Angeles

Doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables? Yes. 

Thanks our partnership with Target, patients in LA, Houston and Miami will begin taking daily fruits and vegetables—doctor’s orders.   

Since our founding 10 years ago we have run produce prescription programs from New York City to Navajo Nation. Target began funding our work last year, specifically underwriting a produce-prescription program at a pediatric clinic in a low-income Los Angeles community. Doctors and patients saw such positive experiences that the partnership was honored by the US Chamber of Commerce and by Fast Company as a world-changing idea. Target is expanding funding to $1.5M this year, and rolling out the prescriptions in Los Angeles, Houston and Miami this month, at Eisner Health, Memorial Hermann, and Jessie Trice Community Health Center respectively. 

The concept is innovative—but it’s also incredibly simple. Everyone knows that daily consumption of fruits and vegetables is essential to good health. But tens of millions of Americans in poverty rely on cheaper options, and over time the public health results have proven catastrophic. Epidemic rates of obesity and diabetes disproportionately afflict low-income populations, and the national cost of diet-related health care is topping a trillion dollars a year. Doctors can advise eating more fruits and vegetables, but if patients can’t afford them, they can’t buy them. Which is where produce prescriptions come in.

Participating doctors identify patients to enroll in the program—focusing on pediatric patients at risk of diet-related disease and food insecurity. Once enrolled in the free program, patients meet with a doctor or nutritionist to set healthy eating goals and receive vouchers for free fruits and vegetables. During the course of the six-month program, they’ll receive money to buy daily fruits and vegetables for their entire household; a family of 4 will receive about $1,000 in the vouchers between now and January. Patients can redeem the vouchers for any fruits and vegetables of their choice, at no cost, at any Target, or at participating farmers markets.

The outcomes are real. Historically, over half of FVRx participants decreased their BMI. In the Los Angeles program last year, 57% of patients' families reported an improvement in their children's health due to the program. Dr. Yolanda Rebollo, a pediatrician who prescribed produce to her patients through the program, says, “When I can offer a family a script for produce it makes such a difference. The response that we had was phenomenal. It’s something that people really love. It’s gonna go a long way to cutting costs for the family and for our healthcare system.”

Now over a thousand new patients and their families will have the same opportunity. And doctors can’t wait to fill out prescription pads for things like carrots and cilantro.  

Michel Nischan, our founder and father of two diabetic children, agrees. “This partnership works, and we’re thrilled to bring it back to families in need in Los Angeles, and expand it to Houston and Miami. No child should ever say ‘I don’t eat fruits and vegetables—because my parents can’t afford them.’”

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Gabrielle Langholtz | Wholesome Wave | gabrielle@wholesomewave.org 347-668-4323