Author: Kealy Summers, Adelante Mujeres, on behalf of the Veggie Rx Working Group of the Oregon Community Food Systems Network
Publish Date: Summer 2017
This article summarizes results of an Oregon-wide survey of “Veggie Rx” programs, conducted by the Veggie Rx working group of the Oregon Community Food Systems Network. See side box for the list of group members.
Through the Oregon Community Food Systems Network, the organizations of the Veggie Rx working group have been providing access to fresh, local foods for patients experiencing food insecurity and/or diet-related diseases. Partnering with local health clinics and Coordinated Care Organizations, healthcare providers prescribe produce prescriptions typically redeemable at Farmers Markets or for a CSA membership. Our hard work is paying off.
In 2016, the Veggie Rx working group did a statewide survey to learn about all the different programs currently operating or under development. Here are a few key findings.
Patient Impact: 10,343 patients participated in Oregon Veggie Rx programs in 2016.
What Patients are saying...
• “I’m eating more fruits and vegetables. My pain is going away and so is my anxiety.”
• “The doctor had told my husband that he was overweight and pre-diabetic. Now, he lost 15 pounds. When he went to his checkup, the doctor was surprised and congratulated him.”
• “I used to think: ‘I love my children very much, so I will buy them juice or chips, etc.’ Now, when they ask me why they can’t have those things, I tell them, ‘because I love you very much, and your health is important to me.’ It’s a way of showing my love.”
Economic Impact: $124,984 was spent on produce by Oregon Veggie Rx participants in 2016.
Programs in Operation for 1-4 years Adelante Mujeres — Produce Rx; Started May 2014 Kaely Summers 503-992-0078 Ex.213 www.adelantemujeres.org/programsand-events
Mission: To improve health outcomes for lowincome patients who suffer from or who are at-risk for diet-related diseases. Based on the belief that every individual has innate capacity for growth and transformation, the program provides education and financial assistance to help participants develop healthy long-term habits
Gorge Grown Food Network — Veggie Rx; Started Aug. 2015 Sarah Sullivan 503-307-5531 www.gorgegrown.com
Mission: Gorge Grown’s Veggie Rx is a fruit and vegetable prescription program designed to address food inse-curity and increase intake of fresh produce.
OHSU Hemophilia Center — Hemophilia Food Pharmacy; Started 2015 Liz Adams 503 493 0981 www.ohsu.edu/xd/about/services/food-and-nutrition/farmers-market/about/n...
Mission: The purpose is to learn if people enjoy and benefit from participating in the Food Pharmacy Program.
OSU Extension — Veggie Rx; 1-3 years Caryn Wheeler 541-776-7371
Mission: Veggie Rx work to increase access to and utilization of ways to source fresh produce for low income families.
Samaritan Cancer Resource Center/ Samaritan Health Resources — That’s My Farmer Rx; Started 2013- 14 Stephanie Hagerty 541-768-2171 www.samhealth.org/about-samaritan Mission: Educates survivors about healthy shopping, eating locally, using supplements and the impact of fresh, wholesome foods.
Ten Rivers Food Web — Veggie Rx; Started 2013, based in Corvallis OR Harry MacCormack 541-929-5782 www.tenriversfoodweb.org, see Nutrition
Mission: TRFW Nutrition committee focuses on education in our 3 counties. We have 4 doctors, a health care professional and two authors involved. TRFW also has An Assessment of Plant Based Foods for Humans and An-imals available for free at the TRFW website. An Assessment of Animal Based Foods coming soon.
Zenger Farm and Village Gardens — CSA Partnerships for Health; 1-3 Years Lauren Lubowicki - ZF 503 473 4055; Kris Soebroto - VG 503 927 0820
Mission: To decrease risk for diet-related chronic diseases by improving individual diet quality through partnerships between Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and health clinics. Our target population is lowincome, racially and ethnically diverse families living in North and outer SE Portland.
Programs Still in Development
Marion-Polk Food Share — Youth Farm CSA Rx Share www.mpfsyouthfarm.org Lexi Stickel 503-581-3855
Mission: The Youth Farm is an urban farm that cultivates a new generation of community leaders by engaging young people in growing food for the community.
Oregon Food Bank — E. Multnomah County Veggie Rx Lynn Knox 503-853-8732
Mission: To provide improved access to produce and education about using it for food insecure pre-diabetics or diabetics.
Rogue Valley Food System Network/OSU Extension — Veggie Prescription Program/Josephine County Regan Emmons 541-507-7742
Mission: (Not yet official) To increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for those with chronic illnesses or food insecurity.
For more details on the survey findings and this working group, contact Team Chair Kaely Summers (see side bar for contact information).
Learn more about the Oregon Community Food Systems Network at http://ocfsn.net/.
The question of diet has been elevated from a personal issue to a public health crisis. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 1990 no state had an obesity rate greater than 15%. Just 15 years later, however, 5 states had obesity rates between 20% and 25%, and the remaining 45 states all had rates over 25%.
Studies have shown that being overweight or obese poses risks for health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, hypertension and stroke, asthma, and certain forms of cancer. The National Center for Weight & Wellness at George Washington University has estimated that obesity-related medical costs now total over $300 billion.
Local and community food systems advocates are now promoting affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables in an effort to shift diets away from highly processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods.
OCFSN members are partnering with health care providers on “Veggie Rx” programs, through which doctors and nurses can offer patients with specific diet related health concerns or experiencing food insecurity vouchers for purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some programs also offer nutrition counseling and cooking skills education to help patients develop healthier eating habits.
The OCFSN Veggie Rx working group is evaluating existing programs in Oregon to determine which models are most successful, and developing a base of evidence to show that fruit and vegetable subsidies are an effective intervention that can improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs.
Curry Watersheds Partnership
Friends of Zenger Farm
Gorge Grown Food Network
High Desert Food and Farm Alliance
Oregon Farmers’ Market Association
Ten Rivers Food Web
Upstream Public Health
Team Chair and Contact
Forest Grove Farmers’ Market Manager
email@example.com (503) 992-0078