5W Wednesday: Prescription for Health

Our 5W Wednesday series highlights a variety of health care organizations, professionals and programs that keep our community healthy.

What is it?
Prescription for Health (PFH) is a program of Washtenaw County Public Health, funded by a grant from the Kresge Foundation, that connects low-income patients at local medical clinics to farmers’ markets, ensuring greater access to healthy foods. Patients of local health clinics who are “prescribed” the program will receive a coupon book with 4 coupons worth $10.00 each to spend at local farmers’ markets. According to Jenna Bacolor, PFH program supervisor, “We’re trying to really forge a connection between the clinics and the food system…the primary venue being the farmers’ market, but we’re talking about other parts of the food system (e.g. grocery stores, food pantries) as well.”

Who is participating?
Participating clinics include The Corner Health Center and Neighborhood Family Health Center in Ypsilanti and Packard Health, Packard West, and New Hope Outreach Clinic in Ann Arbor.

Where can the coupons be used?
Coupons can be spent at either the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers’ Market or the Westside Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market. A Prescription for Health booth at each market will be staffed by a dietitian, who will take the patient’s coupon and give him or her 10 tokens to be spent on fresh local produce. The dietitians will also provide individuals with nutritional advice and recipes.

When did the program begin?
The Michigan Department of Community Health, Cardiovascular Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity Division funded a pilot program of Prescription for Health in 2009. This pilot program led to the successful Kresge Foundation grant application, allowing for expansion of the program.

Why have a program like Prescription for Health?
As stated by Jenna Bacolor, PFH Program Supervisor, on annarbor.com, “The ultimate goal of Prescription for Health is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among county residents who have difficulty accessing fresh food in our county. The bi-products aren’t bad, either — clinic staff learn new skills for supporting their patients’ good nutrition habits, and farmers markets gain new customers.” View her full article on PFH here.

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