Produce prescription program begins in Madison

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A new program in Madison is aiming to encourage healthy eating habits and it all starts at the doctor's office. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is helping people who might not be able to afford fresh produce on their own.

"What we're doing is the first time that we've seen it in Wisconsin," said Nick Heckman with Public Health Madison and Dane County.

The FVRx program started February 1st.

"Fruit and vegetables and food of all kinds is so much more accessible than medication so if patients learn some new ways to take care of themselves it's a lot easier to go into stores and get these things at any time than to get medications," said Brendon Smith with Willy Street Co-op.

The program will be available for patients with food insecurities at UW Health Northeast Family Medical Clinic.

"They'll get this prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables in the format of coupons which can be redeemed at any Willy Street Co-op store. Each coupon is good for up to two dollars off fresh fruits and vegetables and they are 10 of these coupons per month and they get six months so it's about 124 dollars in coupons overall," said Smith.

It's funded by Wholesome Wave, a national group working to make produce available for all.
The 23 thousand dollar grant covers 150 people to be in the program, a partnership between Willy Street Co-op, UW Health Northeast Family Medical, the City of Madison, Public Health Madison and Dane County and Second Harvest Foodbank

"It's an interesting approach to start thinking about food as medicine and ways that we can use our diet to improve our healthcare," said Heckman.

As a pilot program, data will be collected and looked at by the local organizations involved and Wholesome Wave to see if the concept can be used in other areas.

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