Fresh and Healthy: Produce Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: Fresco y Saludable/Fresh and Healthy is a produce prescription program in Los Angeles County, California that is currently being offered to existing patients at Asian Pacific Healthcare Venture, Inc. (APHCV), Northeast Valley Health Corporation (NEVHC), and Venice Family Clinic (VFC). To participate in the program, patients must be enrolled in Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), screen positive for food insecurity, and be diagnosed with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Participants receive an electronic debit card loaded with $40 per month for six months. The debit card can only be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating large-scale grocery stores (Food 4 Less, Ralphs, Walmart) that are located within a few miles of each clinic site. Participants are also given referrals to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), nutrition education classes, local food pantries, and local free produce distribution events.

Upon enrolling in the program, participants’ current fruit and vegetable intake, household food security status, blood pressure, and hemoglobin A1c are measured. These measures are then taken again at the end of the six-month program to assess the impact of the produce prescriptions on participants’ health.

How they do it: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has received funding from the USDA’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) and GusNIP COVID Relief and Response (GusCRR). Public Health is collaborating with EatSF – Vouchers 4 Veggies, along with APHCV, NEVHC, and VFC, to implement the program across nine clinics that serve primarily low-income patients in Los Angeles County. The healthcare partners recruit, screen, and enroll participants into Fresco y Saludable/Fresh and Healthy and measure participants’ health metrics. Vouchers 4 Veggies facilitates the incentives, provides technical assistance to the grocery stores on managing reimbursements, and teaches grocery store owners and staff how to accept the incentive payments at the point of purchase.

Mission: To improve the dietary intake of low-income, food-insecure households at risk for developing a diet-related chronic disease and associated complications.  

Major Funding: The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program COVID Relief and Response (GusCRR)

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $1,062,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Fresco y Saludable/Fresh and Healthy is the first program of its kind in the Public Health department. In the first year of the program, from September 2021 to August 2022, 763 participants were enrolled and more than $90,000 in debit card incentives were redeemed at participating grocery stores.


Asian Pacific Healthcare Venture, Inc. (APHCV) sites: 
Belmont Health Center
180 Union Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Los Feliz Health Center 
1530 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Northeast Valley Health Corporation (NEVHC) sites: 
Pacoima Health Center 
12756 Van Nuys Blvd.
Pacoima, CA 91331

San Fernando Health Center 
1600 San Fernando Rd.
San Fernando, CA 91340

Sun Valley Health Center 
7223 Fair Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91325

Transitions to Wellness – Van Nuys 
6551 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Venice Family Clinic (VFC) sites: 
Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center
2509 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Irma Colen Health Center 
4700 Inglewood Blvd. Site 102
Culver City, CA 90230

Rose Health Center 
604 Rose Ave.
Venice, CA 90291 

Core Programs: Produce prescription project

Number of staff: 3

Number of volunteers: 0

Areas served: Los Angeles County, CA

Year Started: 2021

Program Manager: Fatinah Darwish-Elsherbiny

Contact Information:
Fatinah Darwish-Elsherbiny, MPH, RDN, Program Manager

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Communications & Public Affairs

Learn More:

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