Fruit and vegetable prescription program nudges participants toward better diet choices
A non-profit, a chef, and some New York City physicians have partnered to make healthful food more available and affordable for low-income populations via the Rx Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Chef Michel Nischan partnered with area physicians to encourage patients to eat more fruits and vegetables, believing that patients would trust this diet advice if it medical professionals issued it. Children participating in the program take part in weekly nutrition sessions and health measurements (including insulin levels and blood pressure) and at the end of the session, they leave with a prescription for fruits and vegetables.
Importantly, the program funds the fruit and vegetable purchases, allowing participants to exchange their “prescription” for Health Bucks accepted at 140 city farm markets. The amount of Health Bucks covers not only the children who participate, but each person in their immediate family, providing nutritional benefits to their parents and siblings as well.
Initial results of the program, which seeks to serve as a “nudge” in the right dietary direction, are positive, with roughly 40 percent of participants dropping their body mass indexes after participation in the program. Organizers hope to expand the program in the future, saying that they have been receiving interest from “all over the country.”