“If the pilot project is successful, farmers’ markets would become like a fruit and vegetable pharmacy for at-risk families.” – Gus Schumacher, Co-Founder of Wholesome Wave
Beginning in 2010, Wholesome Wave had a vision: to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for “at-risk” families. So, they teamed up with local healthcare offices and developed a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx). The FVRx program aims to bridge the gap between health indicators and outlets for healthy food, such as farmer’s markets, and allows for medical offices to give participants, usually “at-risk” families, prescriptions for fruit and vegetables in the form of vouchers, redeemable at local farmer’s markets.
Initially, five communities were chosen to participate in the FVRx Pilot project, all of which were located in the New England area. In 2011, the project expanded to include eight communities, three in Massachusetts, two in Maine, two in California, and one in Rhode Island.
FVRx defines an “at-risk” family as a family that is, “at risk of developing obesity or other diet related illness such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease”(1). Participating families are provided with FVRx vouchers, engage in food assessments, and are seen periodically by a healthcare professional to measure health outcomes. The primary health indicators used to assess outcomes are weight, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. Continual tracking allows medical offices and Wholesome Wave to collect statistical medical data that links healthier food options with positive health outcomes. Thus far, Wholesome Wave and partnering healthcare professionals have found positive correlations and see promise in continuing the program.
In addition to improving the health of community residents, FVRx is also providing economic benefits to local farms and local business. Each prescription dollar serves four important purposes:
- Nourishing the consumer
- Boosting the farmers’ revenue
- Uplifting the community as a whole
- An competitive alternative to fast food and “dollar value menus”
Wholesome Wave and related FVRx partners are still working to resolve some concerns surrounding the project as they continue to expand. These concerns include, but are not limited to: the rate at which people “under-eat” fruits and vegetables and overeat “junk food;” the seasonality of farmer’s markets; providing fresh fruits and vegetables in the off-season; continued funding to support additional communities; and expanding reach to local grocery stores.
Did You Know?
Nightshade plants like cauliflower, potatoes, and tomatoes have naturally occurring concentrations of nicotine. Eggplant has the highest nicotine concentration at 100ng/g. Don’t worry, you would have to consume 20 eggplants to try to get close to the amount of nicotine in one cigarette. Learn more here.