Farmers Markets Become "Pharmacies" in NYC

by Katharine O'Marra | 07/23/2013 | 4:35pm

Farmers Markets Become Pharmacies in NYC

Doctors can prescribe fruits and vegetables under new program.

Doctors typically give patients prescriptions for medications. But, a new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients. 

Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley launched the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program today that aims to give at-risk families greater access to healthy foods.

Under the program obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmer’s markets.

Health Bucks are a part of the city’s initiative to make farmer’s market produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at over 140 New York City farmer’s markets.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive one dollar in Health Bucks per day for them and their family members for a period of at least four months.

Bronx resident Tammy Futch said her family has seen positive changes since starting the program.

“My son lost 40 pounds behind this program,” she said, “and also I lost weight doing it with him and also I have my other kids, I have four other kids also doing the program.”

The Prescription Program was started by Wholesome Wave in 2011 and has since been expanded to seven states.

Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital Center are the first New York State facilities to participate in the program.

Dr. Shefali Khanna is the chief of pediatrics at Lincoln Medical Center. She says the program will bring lasting benefits to the city.

“We’re not only teaching them just about eating healthy,” Khanna said, “this is really an investment for the future and we hope we have a whole generation of kids who benefit from this and reaches adulthood at a healthy optimal weight.”


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