Prescription for Health
Our Prescription for Health program connects patients to their local farmers market though their medical clinic. Health care providers write "prescriptions" for their patients to eat more fruits and vegetables, and patients redeem their prescriptions at the farmers market!
The Prescription for Health program aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and improve health among patients with lower incomes. Washtenaw County Public Health works closely with safety-net clinics in Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Milan to build systematic support for healthy behavior changes and to create stronger partnerships between health care providers and the local food sector.
How does the program work?
Program runs June - December
- Clinicians identify potential participants when patients come in for a regular visit.
A clinician reviews the patient's chart for chronic disease risk and food access difficulty. If a patient is interested, the clinician refers the patient to a group enrollment visit.
- Patients attend a group enrollment visit.
The patient attends a group enrollment visit, where he/she receives information about the program and engages in a discussion about the link between health, chronic disease and food choices. The patient sets specific goals for healthy eating and receives a "prescription" for fresh fruits and vegetables. The prescription may be filled at the local farmers market and is worth a total of $100.
- Patients take their prescriptions to the Prescription for Health booth at the farmers market.
Program staff provide individual nutrition education and support and give the patient $10 in tokens at each visit, up to 10 visits. The tokens can be used the same as cash at the market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fruit/vegetable plants.
Program Implementation Guide:
We developed a guide to assist other organizations in replicating our evidence-based fruit and vegetable prescription program. The guide contains tips on program planning, implementation, and evaluation, as well as sample materials used in our program. In addition, we developed a readiness checklist to help determine if your organization is ready to implement a similar program in your community. We hope you find these tools useful!
2016 Clinic Partners:
- St. Joseph Mercy Neighborhood Family Health Center
- St. Joseph Mercy Academic Internal Medicine Clinic
- St. Joseph Mercy Academic OB/Gyn Center
- Packard Health
- Hope Clinic
- UNIFIED - HIV Health and Beyond
- Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools (RAHS)
- Washtenaw County Public Health Tuberculosis Program
- Faith in Action
- U of M Chelsea Health Center
- Aid in Milan
- IHA Milan Medical Center
2016 Farmers Market Partners:
- Growing Hope's Ypsilanti Farmers Markets (distributes and accepts PFH tokens)
- Chelsea Farmers Markets (distributes and accepts PFH tokens)
- St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Farmers Market (distributes and accepts PFH tokens)
- Pittsfield Township Farmers Market (does not distribute PFH tokens but accepts them)
- Growing Hope's YpsiPlanti Garden Supply and Ypsilanti Mobile Farm Stand (does not distribute PFH tokens but accepts them)
- Milan Farmers & Artisans Market (distributes and accepts PFH tokens)
Check out http://washtenawmarkets.org to see all of the markets in Washtenaw County that accept Prescription for Health and other food assistance programs!
Program Evaluation and Outcomes:
Washtenaw County Public Health staff conducted pre- and post-program surveys of patients and clinic staff. We also tracked patients’ use of coupons on a weekly basis throughout the season.
"[This program is a] win-win – it links people who need access to food with those who grow it locally."
-Clinic Staff Member
- 2016 Outcome Report
- 2015 Outcome Report
- 2014 Outcome Report
- 2013 Outcome Report
- 2011-2012 Program Overview & Results Presentation
- Final Report for 2011-2012 Kresge Foundation Grant
- 2012 Outcome Report
- 2011 Outcome Report
The Prescription for Health program began in 2008 as a pilot project. Thanks to a 2-year grant from the Kresge Foundation, the PFH program was expanded and enhanced for 2011 and 2012. We continued to refine the program in 2013, and then received an additional 2 years of funding for 2014-2015 from the Kresge Foundation. In 2016, funding is generously provided by Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
See our Program History page for more information about the start of the program!
- "Washtenaw County Public Health Wins Kresge Foundation Grant: Funding Expands Prescription for Health" - Press Release from Washtenaw County Public Health, 1/20/11
- "$294,000 Kresge Foundation grant aims to connect Washtenaw County needy to healthy food options" - Article on annarbor.com, 1/20/11
- "Prescription for Health makes access to fresh fruits and vegetables easier for those on a limited budget" - Inside Washtenaw County Public Health Blog on annarbor.com, 6/1/11
- "5W Wednesday - Prescription for Health" - MLibrary Healthy Communities Blog, 6/8/11
- "Eat a carrot and call me in the morning" - Article on HealthyCal.org, 1/18/12
- "Prescription for Health: Program makes fruits & vegetables more accessible for patients on a limited budget" - Inside Washtenaw County Public Health Blog on annarbor.com, 4/11/12
- "Washtenaw County receives national award to boost Prescription for Health program" - Article on annarbor.com, 6/4/12
- "Our Community's Health - Prescribing Produce" - Article on Concentrate, 3/13/13
- "How and when we decide to eradicate hunger" - Article on annarbor.com, 4/2/13
- "Prescription for Health Connects Local Health Clinics, Patients and Farmers Markets: Participants Report Eating More Fruits and Vegetables" - Press Release from Washtenaw County Public Health, 4/4/13
- "Prescription for Health Makes a Positive Difference" - Article on Washtenaw County Food Policy Council, 4/10/13
- "Street Beat: Prescription for Health" - Interview on CW50 television, 4/21/13
- "From Good to Great: Using QI to Standardize Prescription for Health" - Article on Public Health Foundation, 10/30/13 (link to full case story)
- "Community Health Advocates expand services to include assisting in Prescription for Health program" - Article in Growing Hope's Ypsilanti Farmers Markets 2013 Annual Report
- "Washtenaw County to Accept Kresge Grant" - Article on The Ann Arbor Chronicle, 2/19/14
- "Fresh Prescription: Instead of pills, doctors prescribe fruits and vegetables through program that unites health care with local food systems" - Article in Hour Detroit magazine, 9/22/14
- "Growing Local Food Systems: A Case Study on Washtenaw County-Ann Arbor, Michigan" - Report from the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, 4/14/15 (link to full report)
- "Prescription: Produce. Here’s $100 to buy fresh food" - Article on The Detroit Free Press, 7/21/15
- "Hospital offers prescriptions for produce and healthy vegetables" - Interview on WXYZ Detroit television, 7/29/15
- "Serving up Health Care with a Side of Good Food" - Article on Altarum Institute, 8/25/15
- "In Michigan, doctors prescribe fruit and vegetables" - Article on Al Jazeera America, 9/2/15
- "Health Educator, Ariane Reister Promotes Eating Right" - Article in Ann Arbor Family Press, July 2016
For More Program Information:
Ariane Reister, MPH, RD
Prescription for Health Program Coordinator
Media Inquiries: Please contact Susan Cerniglia at 734-544-6759 or firstname.lastname@example.org