Authority Health's program connects health care providers with the food system.
This summer, Authority Health – created by the State of Michigan, Wayne County and the City of Detroit to support the public health infrastructure – tested a new method of getting fresh produce to malnourished communities.
Through their program, Fresh Rx, health care providers connect with the food system – and fruits and vegetables are prescribed like medicine. “We know that greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables will help people lose weight, lower their (blood glucose levels) and improve their overall health,” says Patricia White, vice president of clinical operations.
“Once enrolled, our patients participate in the Fresh Rx program at Popoff Family Health Center’s affiliated market site.” Patients are provided a weekly stipend to purchase locally grown produce at a partnered Detroit Community Market.
Each time they visit the market, they work with a nutrition educator (basically, a personal trainer for your diet) to set goals for healthy eating and get nutrition counseling, interactive cooking demonstrations and other educational support.
That new chill in the air means temporary dormancy for the Fresh Rx program. “We can only offer the program during the summer months due to Michigan’s cold weather and limited resources,” White says. But, she adds, “We welcome the opportunity to partner with Detroit grocery stores and interested funding sources to support extending the program throughout the year.”