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Fruit and veg prescription program improves access to healthy foods
A new American study shows that a fruit and vegetable prescription program can improve access to healthy foods for underserved children. The program, implemented in Flint, Michigan, can be replicated in other areas, to address food insecurity in children.
In August 2015, the Hurley Children's Center, a residency training paediatric clinic associated with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, relocated to the second floor of the downtown Flint Farmers' Market. Immediately following this move, the clinic and the farmers' market created a program to encourage families to shop at the market by giving paediatric patients $15 prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at the market.
Flint is considered a food desert because it features a limited number of full-service grocery stores within city limits. About 60 percent of the city's kids live in poverty, and many children don't consume enough nutrient-dense foods while also eating too many poor-quality, calorie-dense foods.
"Fruit and vegetable intake tracks from childhood to adulthood, making it important for health care professionals to guide children towards healthy eating early on," said lead researcher Amy Saxe-Custack, assistant professor at Michigan State University and nutrition director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative. "We need to consider not only nutrition education but also barriers to access and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in underserved areas. The prescription program is a first step to introducing fresh, high-quality produce to children."
Publication date: 6/13/2018
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