This summer of 2019 Cornell Cooperative Extension ushers the South Central NY Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program into Delaware County. Designed by the Rural Health Network of South Central NY and implemented in Broome County in 2017, the program exists as a strategy to help prevent and manage chronic diet-related diseases by increasing affordability and access to nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, this year including East Brook Community Farm, Fantasy Fruit Farm and Birdsong Farm. Fruit and Vegetable Prescriptions can be accepted at Cornell Cooperative Extension sponsored markets in Walton.

Focused on Medicaid patients, participants can be referred to this program through Registered Dietitians and Wellness Coordinators at UHS Walton / Delaware Valley. Enrollment gains the patient regular meetings with a Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coordinator, or Community Health Worker over a six to eight month time period. These meetings will provide participants with their prescription in the form of vouchers. Patients then use these vouchers as their method of payment at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s farmers’ market. Vendors are reimbursed after turning in voucher and log information into the Rural Health Network of SCNY. Prescription includes only the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables from participating markets and stands.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program seeks to “prescribe” financial incentives for their most in-need patients to act on the medical advice they receive, drive sales for locally grown product, allow community partners to become partners in health, connect patients to resources for additional support (cooking, transportation, etc.), and create accessible retail sites meeting a range of consumer preferences for accessibility, functionality, variety, quality and shopping experience. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is funded through an Innovation Fund grant awarded to the Rural Health Network by Care Compass Network, and is focused on adults who receive Medicaid and their families.