Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Improving Health—Health Rx

Lacking access to fresh fruit and vegetables is a real problem that faces too many at-risk communities across the country. As a result, the CHASS (Community Health and Social Services) Southwest Center teamed up with the Ecology Center along with support from Eastern Market’s neighborhood farm stand program and the Fair Food Network to launch Health Rx.

Piloted with 48 patients on Detroit’s southwest side in 2013, Health Rx brought together health care agencies and community food providers to connect at-risk patients in Detroit with healthy, locally grown fresh food to help reduce diet-related medical problems including obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The participants received a “prescription” from their primary care physician that allowed each patient to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from a farmers market for $10 each week. Participants also received support for healthier eating, including nutrition counseling and healthy cooking demonstrations at the market.

The 2013 Health Rx pilot program led to 93 percent of participants better managing their health conditions, 94 percent eating more fruits and vegetables, 88 percent reporting that talking to a health provider at the clinic helped them to eat more fruits and vegetables and 100 percent of the participating care providers agreeing that the program could benefit many of their patients. Given the successful pilot, Health Rx has grown into an expanded program now called “Fresh Prescription.”