Although we commonly think of prescriptions as little bottles of pills from a pharmacy, there is another vitally important kind of prescription to keep us healthy: fruits and vegetables from a garden.
To help fill that prescription for low-income families, the SNAP-Ed New York program of the Hudson Valley has begun a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx). It is designed to address food insecurity in addition to providing nutrition education and support.
Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food to be able to live an active, healthy life. The Covid-19 pandemic and current world circumstances continue to make it hard for many families to afford healthy food over other needs such as housing and transportation.
The SNAP-Ed NY Hudson Valley regional program includes nine counties: Columbia-Greene, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
SNAP-Ed is the nutrition promotion and obesity-prevention component of SNAP which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps. SNAP provides economic benefits to eligible, low-income families to buy food. The education component of the program teaches a variety of topics to help participants to save time, save money and eat healthy.
Poverty, food insecurity and lack of access to quality food contribute to diet-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to medical providers who participate in the FVRx program. These include providers from Bon Secours Charity Healthy System, CareMount Medical, Crystal Run Healthcare, Ellenville Rural Health Network, Garnet Health, MidHudson Regional Hospital and Sun River Health.
SNAP-Ed NY is working with these medical providers to screen their patients for food insecurity. Those who qualify received a “prescription” referring them to the FVRx program.
They are then able to participate in a four- to six-week nutrition workshop, either virtually or in person. These workshops, which are offered in several languages, discuss ideas for successful food management and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
Topics include food preparation, eating healthy on a budget, being more physically active, food demonstrations and recipe sharing.
At the end of each session, participants receive $120 worth of vouchers to be redeemed on fruits and vegetables at designated food retailers and markets, including Beacon Farmers Market, Broadway Farms in Newburgh, Dutchess Outreach Mobile Markets, Healthy Orange Farmers Market in Newburgh, La Nueva Casa Latina in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh Farmers Market.
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