An apple a day RX? Madison announces program for docs to prescribe fruits, veggies

Some Madison residents are eligible for a program in which doctors prescribe healthy and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

The city announced the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program — FVRx — is focused at the neighborhood level, with financial support from Wholesome Wave and a partnership between Willy Street Co-op North and UW Health Northeast Family Medical.

Wholesome Wave is a national group dedicated to “affordable, healthy, local food for all.” Its mission is to empower under-served consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to fresh, local food. The group funded the pilot with a $23,000 grant to the city of Madison.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement, “By collaborating with partners at Public Health Madison and Dane County, Willy Street Co-op, Second Harvest Foodbank and UW Health Northeast Family Medical Clinic, the city continues to illustrate how government and the community can work hand-in-hand to increase the well-being and health of all of our residents.”

Here’s how the program works: A patient can qualify for aid to help purchase produce and join the co-op if a doctor deems he or she does not have food security. Food security means a person has reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

To qualify for the aid, a patient must answer yes to one of two questions:
• In the last year, have you worried about having enough food until you could buy more?
• In the last year, have you actually run out of food before you could buy more?

The aid comes in the form of a packet that includes a coupon to become a co-op owner and 60 $2 coupons that can be used in the produce department until the end of the year.

Participants can also join a program at the co-op that offers an additional 10 percent off of groceries and a free coupon to attend one of the co-op classes, which would normally charge a fee.

“The co-op is invested in continuing to expand the ways in which we can help address food security in Dane County,” said Kirsten Moore, director of cooperative services.

Moore said data collected from the pilot will help the co-op determine how to continue and fund these type of programs for the future.

“We already have some great ideas to share in the next few months, and we look forward to launching new initiatives to expand these offerings,” Moore said.