Fruit and veggie prescription program in NYC

July 23, 2013 3:23:56 PM PDT
Doctor prescriptions for fruits and vegetables. It's a unique program that for the first time is now available in our area.

"That's what this is all about where doctors are gonna be writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commisioner.

The city launched a new fruit and vegetable prescription program-- called FVRX.

It targets children who are overweight and their families. Especially in low income neighborhoods.

"Here in NYC more than 1 in 10 adults doesn't eat any fruits and vegetables on a given day but in the Bronx that's 1 in 5," adds Dr. Farley.

Here's how it works, pediatricians give parents a prescription. It allows up to a dollar a day per family member for fruits and veggies, $28 a week for a family of four.

You also get vouchers, New York City health bucks. Paid for by tax dollars they're similar to food stamps but can only be used for fresh produce.

Those health bucks can be used at any of the city's farmers markets.

"It allows people to get a shopping basket full of produce that they otherwise would not be able to afford," said Margaret Hoffman, Regional Manager of Greenmarket.

The prescriptions are part of a national initiative linking local farmers to underserved communities. Officials are now testing it in two New York City hospitals with 140 families.

Convincing but critics say just because a doctor orders it doesn't mean people will actually do it.

The new, public-private partnership with the NYC health and hospitals corporation (hhc) has been made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Laurie M. Tisch illumination fund.

For now, it's a 4 month pilot program at Harlem Hospital and Lincoln Medical Center.

If it works- officials say they will try to expand it to other locations-- using donations, grants and possibly city funding.

LINK: Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program

LINK: NYC Launch of FVRX