Produce Prescription Program (Produce Rx)

Since 2012, DC Greens has partnered with Wholesome Wave, the DC Department of Health, AmeriHealth Caritas, and health clinics and farmers’ markets to implement a Produce Prescription (Produce Rx) program in Washington, DC.

Through Produce Rx, patients at risk for or experiencing diet-related chronic illness are referred by their health care providers into a six-month group nutrition education program. Participants visit their health clinic monthly, where they have a check-in with their health care provider and attend a one-hour class featuring a nutrition lesson and seasonal recipe demonstration. At the end of the class, health care providers issue monthly prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables, which the patients redeem weekly at DC farmers’ markets for checks that can be spent on fresh farmers’ market produce. In 2017, DC Greens is partnering with 7 health clinics to implement the program, reaching nearly 500 patients and family members. With close tracking on both the health clinic and farmers’ market side, Produce Rx provides essential data on the value of nutrition-based health interventions.

Outcomes

Since 2012, this program has reached over 1,500 patients and family members, who have spent over $175,000 with local farmers.

Health

DC Greens has seen consistently that participants see an improvement in individual health metrics over the course of the program. 50% of participants see some reduction in their BMI over the course of the program, and health care providers have also shared that participants with elevated A1c levels have seen a reduction in their blood glucose. 42% of participants report that they have better overall health as a result of the program.

Relationships with Health Care Providers

At the end of the program, 87% of participants report that their health care provider is good or great at listening to them, taking enough time with them, explaining what they want to know, and giving them good advice about their health. Preliminary data from Unity Health Care also shows that participants in the Produce Prescription Program visit their primary care clinic more regularly compared to individuals not participating in the program.

Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

At the end of the program, about 85% of program participants report that they like fruits and vegetables. 64% report knowing more about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their family’s diet, and 38% report that they have a healthier diet overall as a result of the program. Additionally, as of the end of the program nearly 90% of participants report that they feel comfortable shopping at the farmers’ market.

Program Feedback

"[Produce Rx] enables me to practice like I've always wanted to in treating children and families with unhealthy weight: instead of a medicine, I prescribe fruits and vegetables. And rather than wish that families could afford to purchase abundant fruits and vegetables every week, [Produce Rx] takes away the financial barriers that children from low-income families often face and makes it easy for their families to get fresh produce. As a result, I am seeing patients and families being transformed--eating well, moving more, and most importantly--moving toward a healthier weight."

-Ryan Buchholz, MD, FAAP

Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics Steering Committee Member, Institute for Healthy Childhood

"For me, this program was perfect because in addition to receiving the prescription, we also received support from the doctors and nutritionists on how to improve our health."

-Produce Rx program participant

Additional Resources

Take a look at what participants learn throughout the season: check out our seasonal ingredient one-pagers in English and Spanish

Contact

Please contact Ellie Fausold, ellie@dcgreens.org, for more information about DC Greens’ Produce Rx program.