257380 Prescription for Health: Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among at-risk patients through local farmers' markets

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 12:30 PM - 12:50 PM

Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, MPH , Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Division, Washtenaw County Public Health, Ypsilanti, MI
Allison Mankowski, MPH, RD , Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Division, Washtenaw County Public Health, Ypsilanti, MI
Introduction: Limited access to affordable fresh produce is associated with poor health status, stress and obesity (Food Research and Action Center, 2011). While providers at medical clinics may counsel their low income patients to eat more fruits and vegetables, these patients often face substantial barriers to access. Farmers' markets in lower income and rural communities offer a source of healthy, affordable and accessible food. The Prescription for Health program forges ties between the medical system, public health and the food sector by connecting clinic staff and patients to their local farmers' market.

Methods: PFH aims to increase patient consumption of fruits and vegetables and build clinic staff awareness and skills. Patients receive a “prescription” to visit the farmers' market from a clinic staff person, $40.00 in tokens to spend on produce over four visits to the market and on-site nutrition support. Pre- and post-surveys measure fruit and vegetable consumption, ability to manage chronic disease and other key outcomes. Patient visits to the farmers' markets are tracked and qualitative interviews conducted with clinic staff.

Results: The program reached 311 diverse, low income patients from five clinics. Preliminary evaluation results show increased fruit and vegetable consumption among patients. Our presentation will describe changes in consumption behavior, staff attitudes and other findings.

Discussion: Programs that bridge the gap between the medical and food sectors can contribute to chronic disease prevention and support local agriculture. Clinics can play a critical role in connecting patients with healthy food resources and reinforcing educational messages.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify key steps in designing a healthy food access and nutrition education program involving non-traditional partners. 2. Describe methods for enhancing clinic staff knowledge and skills in order to connect low income patients with local healthy food resources. 3. Analyze the impact of a partnership between medical clinics, farmers’ markets and a local health department on the fruit and vegetable consumption of low income patients.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved with program planning and implementation and am currently serving in the role of lead evaluator for the Prescripton for Health Program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.