Produce Prescription Program (Produce Rx)

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

Through Produce Rx, food insecure patients at risk for or experiencing diet-related chronic illness are issued a monthly “prescription” for fresh fruits and vegetables by their health care provider and are given referrals for nutrition education. DC Greens currently runs two models of the program in the city.

Model 1

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. During this class, a DC Greens staff member redeems the participant’s prescription in the form of checks which can then be spent on fresh produce at farmers’ markets across the city.

Model 2

Beginning in summer 2018, DC Greens will implement a second model that allows participants to redeem their produce prescriptions at a full-service grocery store. With close tracking on both the health clinic and retail 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. 39% of participants report that they have better overall health as a result of the program.

Relationships with Health Care Providers

Following the 2017 program season, 90% 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. In addition, 92% of participants report in their post program surveys that they are able to take better care of their health due to participation in the program.

Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

At the end of the program, about 62% 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 56% 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 Andrea Talhami, andrea@dcgreens.org, for more information about DC Greens’ Produce Rx program.