Food is Medicine at Jericho Road Health Center ! Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Launched

Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash

Jericho Road Community Health Center staff are writing fruit and vegetable “prescriptions” for patients. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, commonly referred to as FVRx, aims to reach patients who are medically at risk or have a diet-related chronic disease (i.e. high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity etc.), and those who struggle to purchase healthy foods for their families. For many, tight budgets lead to a dual crisis of illness and hunger.

While unhealthy diets contribute to many of the leading causes of death and illness, for many the obstacles to eating well are varied and overwhelming, especially when struggling with limited resources. This program seeks to increase access and affordability of healthy foods. Patients are screened for food insecurity and receive guidance and resources to assist them, including an invitation to the FVRx program. The program connects them to classes about nutrition and budget tips, as well as helping individuals to navigate programs available to support sustained food access locally. Vouchers are provided to each participant, so they can walk out and immediately access free fruits and vegetables at two local vendors. 

Emerging evidence suggests that these models will be a meaningful tool for the prevention and management of diet-related chronic disease, and this program aims to support healthcare providers in starting a conversation about food and nutrition security. 

 “This partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County and SNAP-Education is going to be extremely beneficial for our patients. Many of the people we work with have health challenges that stem from lack of access to affordable, quality, healthy food – challenges like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. We’re looking forward to being able to get free healthy food into the hands of our patients and to provide them with additional local resources that will help them with sustainable food access.” – Emelie Obrochta, Director of East Side Programs for Jericho Road Community Health Center.

The program has partnered with Feedmore WNY’s brand new mobile markets and Lewandowski Produce in Buffalo’s historic Broadway Market, both of which will accept vouchers. Feedmore’s mobile markets will be onsite after each class for client convenience.  

The program will begin at the end of September at Jericho Road Community Health Center’s Broadway location. Vouchers are funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, administered by HRI, Inc. and the New York State Department of Health.

If you are interested in learning more about the FVRx program, contact Melissa Kimbrell, mjk397@cornell.edu