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A Healthy Dose: Introducing the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program

They say laughter is the best medicine, but at the Chester County Food Bank, we believe nutritious food is a close contender. Fresh produce does a world of good for bodies young and old, but not everyone has access to fruits and vegetables. Our Fresh2You Mobile Market, which opened for the season on June 13, seeks to address that issue by bringing a produce-market-on-wheels to various locations throughout Chester County. We’ve seen a lot of success from this program (which is generously supported by QVC) and have gotten lots of positive feedback from residents in various neighborhoods who otherwise find it difficult to locate and purchase affordable fresh produce.

This year, we’re taking this idea a step further with our pilot Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program. This innovative initiative is in partnership with The Clinic in Phoenixville, a nonprofit health care facility whose mission is to “provide quality health care to the uninsured in an atmosphere which fosters dignity and respect for our patients.” The Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program is partially funded through a grant provided by the Chester County Health Department, and also in part by the Chester County Food Bank.

The goal of the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program is to address the adverse effects that food insecurity has on health. The program will do this by offering doctors and their patients the opportunity to discuss nutrition, and give patients the tools necessary to establish great dietary habits and practices. We are aiming to increase access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for patients of The Clinic, and to improve the overall well-being and food security of program participants.

At present, The Clinic has enrolled about 75 patients into the program; each participant is given a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks, which are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the Fresh2You Mobile Market, which parks outside of The Clinic on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The prescription is renewed each week the participant shops at the market.

Because we know that knowledge is power, and that not everyone knows what to do with a head of cauliflower or a bunch of mustard greens, the Fresh2You staff, including a number of volunteers, holds interactive recipe demonstrations at each market location including The Clinic. Every week, a new recipe is featured to highlight a seasonal vegetable. Volunteers cook and offer samples of the recipe at the market, and customers (including all Fruit & Vegetable Prescription participant shoppers) are welcome to take the recipe home. At the market, we sell the ingredients in a handy “Recipe Bundle” for just $5.

If you’re a patient at The Clinic, be sure to ask your care provider about enrolling in the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program. To find out where the Fresh2You Mobile Market will be this summer, take a look at our weekly schedule. We hope to keep the residents of Chester County eating great seasonal produce all summer long!

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank