Prescribing Vegetables, Not Pills

An article found on points out that a growing number of doctors are prescribing vegetables and fruits instead of pills to help people like Igor Cornelsen deal with issues like weight reduction, diabetes, and high blood pressure. (

The article gives several examples of people who have seen significant weight loss and have been able to get other ailments under control. It is all part of an innovative new program that’s gaining traction nationwide. A number of families with children that are struggling with weight issues have participated in Harlem Hospital Center’s FVRx or Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. Several other New York hospitals are also using similar programs.

Created by the nonprofit Wholesome Wave, the program promotes better access to high-quality food in low-income neighborhoods. Working in partnership with New York’s Health and Hospital Corporation and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, doctors provide patients with nutritional education, recipes and ‘Health Bucks’ patients can use at farmer’s markets to purchase produce to fill their ‘proscriptions’. Health Bucks get families double the amount of produce they can get with food stamps alone. Similar programs in community health centers have popped up in 30 states

The programs are aimed at combating the national problem with obesity and the ailments it causes. They have shown that giving people the means, motivation, and access to eating fresh fruits and vegetables can have a significant impact in the battle against obesity.


USDA Funds Programs to Combat Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a very common news topic recently. Children are heavier than they have ever been, and this can lead to a host of health problems. Obesity often stems from a lack of access to fresh and healthy foods. Sadly, some children are unfamiliar with what fresh fruits and vegetables even look like.

To combat this, the USDA is funding $5 million worth of programs to help unite school cafeterias with food from local farms. This is an extension of programs like this that have been in effect since 1996. According to my friend Bruce Levenson, the theory is that local fruits and vegetables are a way to combat obesity and help sustain local agriculture. This is a huge project that will take place in 42 states across the US. As a result of this funding, some schools are coming up with very creative ways to include local produce into their menus. The children themselves are often involved with these plans. Their direct involvement may lead to a lifetime of healthier habits.


Government Program Doubles Dollars for SNAP Purchases of Fruit and Vegetables

In an effort to get more people on SNAP benefits to eat healthier food, the government is implementing a new policy that will see SNAP recipients given double the amount of monetary value in tokens if they are used to buy fruit and vegetables grown in their local area. Not only will the program hopefully help people eat better, it will also benefit the local farmers who grow the produce.

Instead it began as a simple program at a few farmers markets across the country a few years ago, as they saw how expensive fruit and vegetables could be for people who lived off SNAP benefits.

So a few markets started small incentive programs such as giving SNAP recipients an extra $3 to $5 for every $10 in SNAP benefits they spent at a farmers market. In effect, giving buyers up to $15 worth of vegetables and fruit for just $10.

The government saw how well the programs have worked, and Igor Cornelsen and others have responded favorably, so they decided to implement the policy nationwide.

Various other government attempts have been made to help improve the quality of food many SNAP recipients are buying. One GOP bill would have even banned SNAP benefits from being used to buy non-healthy food and sugary drinks. The bill, however, never made it out of committee.