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Fruit & Veggie Rx: Doctors prescribe fresh produce

Doctors can now write prescriptions for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables through our Fruits & Veggies Rx (FVRx) pilot project! The International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) New Roots program partnered with St. Mark’s Family Medicine and the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) to provide refugee patients with health concerns access to free, fresh produce at New Root’s weekly Sunnyvale Farmers Market.

Two New Roots staff sell fresh produce

New Roots staff members sell fresh produce grown by refugee farmers at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market.

Photo: Sarah Maddock/IRC

The FVRx project allows clinic staff at St. Mark’s Family Medicine to provide a prescription of produce, valued at $10, to refugee patients who have a nutritional risk factor, like pregnant women, those with diabetes, and those in food-insecure households. The refillable prescription can be redeemed up to four times at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market.

The FVRx project supplements the nutritional intake of households in need with healthy, fresh, and culturally appropriate produce. In addition to produce, exposure to the Sunnyvale Famers Market also provides patients and their families with an opportunity to learn about emergency food assistance through the Sunnyvale Food Pantry, run by our New Roots program staff, and to build their community with other refugee and immigrant customers who frequent the market.

In addition to FVRx, the New Roots program has a federal grant—the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI)—allowing the program to provide nutrition incentives to customers at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market by doubling their SNAP or food stamp benefits for produce purchases. Ten dollars in benefits becomes $20 at the market. Programs like these ensure refugees and other vulnerable populations can access fresh, healthy produce at a fraction of the cost.

Sunnyvale Farmers Market attendees wait in line to pay for their produce

Sunnyvale Farmers Market is an affordable fresh food resource for residents of the greater Sunnyvale neighborhood. Market attendees wait in line to pay for their produce.

Photo: Jeri Gravlin/IRC

Dr. Kirby and Ms. Chapman, NP, at St. Mark’s took the lead as referring physicians, helping New Roots to identify patients, provide them with nutrition education, and write the FVRx prescription. The UDOH along with Mr. Allkhenfr, the state coordinator for refugee health screenings, assisted in the research study design, with the UDOH providing an intern to coordinate project implementation at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market.

We would like to thank all involved in the pilot project! We are excited to participate in pilot projects of this nature to ensure vulnerable populations know how and where to access fresh, healthy foods for themselves and their families.

Interested in learning more about Fruits & Veggies Rx? Email us at SaltLakeCity [at] rescue.org (subject: FVRx) and include “FVRx” in your subject line.