SNAP-Ed New York offers Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program to support patients and local farmers

PENN YAN – What is the connection between having access to healthy food and one’s physical health? According to the New York State Prevention Agenda area of Preventing Chronic Disease, food insecurity is an indicator for both poor nutrition and poor health. In the Southern Finger Lakes region, 12.2% of residents struggle with food insecurity, making it difficult to have consistent access to healthy foods and supporting a reliance on quick, cheap, and easy foods.

The need for increasing the consumption of healthy foods is clear – in the Finger Lakes Region, only one in seven adults consumes the recommended number of fruits per day, and only one in ten consumes the recommended number of vegetables. Not coincidentally, the rate of overweight or obese adults is 65% across the region. The solution? Food as medicine.

In partnership with Finger Lakes Community Health and local participating vendors, the SNAP-Ed New York Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program focuses on increasing access to affordable and local produce as a solution to preventing and treating chronic diseases – especially those related to obesity – as well as food insecurity.

Starting in 2019 as a pilot program working with the patients of the Finger Lakes Community Health Penn Yan and Bath clinics, the SNAP-Ed New York Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program offered its first virtual session in the fall of 2020. Meeting weekly in an online setting, 14 enrolled patients received virtual nutrition education. After attending each week, participants received educational materials and $20 in vouchers to redeem at participating vendors for the purchase of fresh, local fruits and vegetables.