Fresh Connect: Food Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: Fresh Connect is a technology-enabled food prescription program under the auspices of the Boston-based nonprofit About Fresh. Partnering healthcare organizations – including providers, insurers, and community-based organizations – can prescribe Fresh Connect prepaid debit cards to eligible food-insecure patients. The cards can then be used as frequently as needed to buy healthy foods at participating retailers, including grocery stores, mobile markets, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and online. Healthcare teams use data collected from the shoppers’ card usage and health records to analyze health outcomes, healthcare costs, healthy food access, and participant experience. Every three months participants are asked about their food security status in order to measure the program’s impact.

How they do it: Healthcare professionals provide baseline health indicators and enroll their patients in the program, and the Fresh Connect team mails participants their prepaid debit cards. The healthcare providers determine the amount of money to be loaded onto the card each month, how long the patient will participate in the program, and what foods will qualify to be purchased with the card. The Fresh Connect cards use smart technology to recognize and pay for eligible healthy foods at checkout. The Fresh Connect team can track what foods the shoppers are buying with their cards and use that information, merged with electronic health records or insurance claims data, to provide customized reports regarding the program’s impact on each participant. 

Mission: To improve health outcomes by getting healthy food to those who need it most.

Major Funding: Boston Medical Center, Mass General Brigham, MassHealth Flexible Services Program, the Rockefeller Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Undisclosed

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: In 2022, 4,065 individuals enrolled in Fresh Connect, compared to 974 in 2021. On average, participants spent $85 on qualifying healthy foods each month.


Locations: More than 25,000 retail locations nationwide

Core Programs: Food prescription program

Number of staff: 15

Number of volunteers: 0

Areas served: Nationwide

Year Started: 2019

Program Director: Michael Lantow 

Contact Information: Email: | Phone: (857) 256-0560

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