Fresh Prescription is an innovative program that connects public health with the health of the local food economy. It was started in Detroit, Michigan in 2013 with the goal of increasing low-income residents’ access to nourishing, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. The program enables primary care physicians to prescribe fresh produce to their patients as a way of treating and preventing chronic diet-related diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. After meeting with a physician at a neighborhood health clinic, patients receive prescriptions that can be redeemed for free produce at participating farmers markets. The farmers who “fill” the prescriptions are reimbursed with grant funds supported in part by local hospitals and healthcare providers. The program also includes nutrition counseling and classes on cooking healthy meals with seasonally-available produce, which are especially targeted towards low-income populations that are disproportionately impacted by diet-related diseases. Better access to healthy food is just one of the benefits of Fresh Prescription: by participating in the program, small farmers gain income and new customers, and more food dollars circulate in the local economy.
Learn more about Fresh Prescription and similar initiatives currently being piloted throughout the United States.