Parkview Health in Fort Wayne has received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture totaling more than $460,000 which will be used to support efforts to reduce food insecurity. Parkview says the funding will support its Veggie Rx to HEAL program, which provides fresh produce and nutrition education to low-income adults who are at risk of food insecurity and chronic health issues in Allen County.
Parkview says the grant will allow it to expand the program to serve more than 800 people over the next three years. Last year, the program served 121 people and the health system hopes to increase that number to 250 people this year.
Veggie Rx participants receive a $50 monthly voucher that can be redeemed at HEAL farmers markets, as well as select farmers markets around town. Parkview says it also plans to add local grocery stores in the future.
Veggie Rx participants are selected for the program through area healthcare providers. Parkview says prediabetes, diabetes, heart disease and high-risk pregnancies are also qualifying conditions for the program.
“Veggie Rx empowers health care providers to literally prescribe fresh produce and distribute a tangible, healthy food incentive to their health marginalized patients,” said Michelle Bojrab-Wray, Chief Community Outreach Dietitian at Parkview Health. “We have seen great results from this program, including improved blood pressure and healthy behavior changes. Most importantly, we are making nutritious food available to more people, which positively impacts the health and well-being of our entire community.
The funding will also allow the program to expand from three months to six months, with the next session beginning in May.