Doctors at two New York City hospitals can now give obese and overweight children an “FVRx” — a literal prescription for fruit and vegetables.
The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, run through the nonprofit Wholesome Wave, began its official four-month pilot program at Lincoln Medical Center and at Harlem Hospital with a launch by Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, according to WCBS-TV.
The program, which rolled out as a pilot program to several U.S. cities in 2011 and had even more in 2012, allows obese and overweight children with an FVRx prescription to purchase local produce at $1 per day per family member, according to the Wholesome Wave’s website. That would be up to $28 per week given for a family of four.
The program requires frequent meetings of the patient with a physician to continue providing prescriptions for redemption at participating farmers markets.
“This is probably going to prevent an awful lot more disease over the long-term than a lot of the medicines we tend to write for,” Farley said at the program launch in New York Tuesday, according to WCBS.
Here is WABC-TV’s report with footage from the launch event:
WFUV reported a Bronx mother already citing success since being on the program:
“My son lost 40 pounds behind this program, and also I lost weight doing it with him and also I have my other kids, I have four other kids also doing the program,” Tammy Futch said.
With 12 states and the District of Columbia participating in the four to six-month program in 2012, FVRx saw 55.3 percent of its participants increasing their consumption of fresh produce and 37.8 percent had a reduced body mass index. During the growing season, 53 percent of families went to pick up food at farmers markets eight times or more.
If this pilot program is successful, lawmakers will consider expanding it to other low-income neighborhoods, according to Gothamist.
In addition to this program, GrowNYC has a similar initiative that gives “Heath Bucks” to those on food stamps to spend at Greenmarkets.
“Health Bucks are paper vouchers, worth $2 each, developed and distributed by NYC Health Department District Public Health Offices and which can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets,” Grow NYC’s website states. “For every $5 a customer spends using EBT, s/he receives one $2 Health Buck coupon. This increase of 40 percent in buying power stretches a Food Stamp budget and encourages shoppers to spend more of their monthly Food Stamp allotment on fresh produce from the market.”
Featured image via Shutterstock.com.