Giving Compass' Take:

• A program called 'Pharmacy to Farm' is prescribing fruits and vegetables to low-income New Yorkers and giving independent pharmacists a boost.

• How are farmers connected to the communities in need? How can donors and philanthropists support the development of other community programs like this?

Learn more about making healthy food more affordable and accessible. 

New York City is expanding a unique prescription program that helps low-income residents with health risks afford more fresh produce. Called Pharmacy to Farm, it will now serve patients at 16 drug stores located throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—up from just 3 at its launch in 2017.

The program gives qualifying residents $30 per month to spend at farmers’ markets across the city. So, really, the program doesn’t actually prescribe anything in a traditional sense—but let’s not argue over semantics. To participate, New Yorkers have to meet two criteria: They must receive food stamps (SNAP) and they must be prescribed medication for high-blood pressure—a condition which is linked to stroke and heart disease and which affects 28.8 percent of adults in the city.

Many localities have experimented with fruit and vegetable prescriptions in the past decade. In Wilmington, North Carolina, doctors can prescribe fresh food to be picked up at a local nonprofit. In DC, a program called ProduceRx lets doctors give Medicaid patients money to spend at a nearby Giant Food supermarket. In Camden, Maine, doctors can give vouchers to families enrolled in SNAP to use at the local farmer’s market. The general idea is straightforward: Doctors already prescribe medicine for health conditions, why not equip them to prescribe healthy eating, too?

Read the full article on getting healthy foods to low-income people by Jessica Fu at The New Food Economy.