Fresh Food Rx: Produce Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon

What they do: Through the Fresh Food Prescription (Fresh Food Rx) Program, a project of The SEED – a “do-it-together” food movement – and the Guelph Community Health Centre (CHC) in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, healthcare practitioners are able to provide prescriptions for free, fresh produce to patients. Eligible patients include those who are food insecure and living with a diagnosed cardio-metabolic condition and/or a micronutrient deficiency. The program has now gone through two phases. In phase one, participants received 12 weekly vouchers to be used at any of five SEED Community Food Markets in Guelph. In phase two, participants received 52 weekly vouchers to be used to buy Groceries from the SEED, an online grocery store through which food is delivered to customers’ homes. Vouchers were valued at $10 per household member, for a total of up to $50 per household per week. After the success of the first two phases, The SEED and Guelph CHC are trying to secure funding to integrate Fresh Food Rx into their regular long-term programming and expand it to help more community members.  

During the first two phases, a voluntary pre-post survey was given to participants to gather information on their perceived barriers to cooking, food security, self-reported health outcomes, weekly fruit and vegetable consumption, and involvement in activities in the community. Interviews are also conducted with participants at the completion of the program to collect information on their perceptions of the program itself. Results from participants in phase 1 were promising, with participants reporting improvements in household food security, fruit and vegetable consumption, and social connectivity within the community. 

In addition, biometric measures, including blood pressure and blood markers of cardiometabolic health and nutritional adequacy, were also collected from phase 2 participants. Results from participants in phase 2 are still being evaluated.

How they do it: Funding was provided by the Alliance for Healthier Communities, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Sprott Foundation, the McConnell Foundation, the Kindred Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Healthcare practitioners at two Guelph CHC locations identified eligible patients and referred them to the program. A total of 60 households participated in each phase of the project. Data collection and evaluation were conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Victoria and the University of Guelph.

Mission: To provide innovative, food-based healthcare.

Major Funding: Alliance for Healthier Communities, Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Sprott Foundation, Kindred Foundation

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Not disclosed

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Following the 12-week phase one pilot program in 2019, Fresh Food Rx participants reported greater food security and increased self-reported intake of fruits and vegetables. Results from the 52-week phase 2 program in 2021-22 are forthcoming. 


Downtown Guelph Community Health Center
176 Wyndham Street North
Guelph, Ont.
N1H 8N9

Shelldale Community Health Center
20 Shelldale Crescent
Guelph, Ont.
N1H 1C8

Core Programs: Produce prescription program

Number of staff: 3

Number of volunteers: 1

Areas served: Guelph, Ontario

Year Started: 2019 

Program Coordinator: Abby Richter

Contact Information: 
Abby Richter, Fresh Food Prescription (Rx) Coordinator & Registered Dietitian
Phone: 519-821-6638 x338

Learn More:

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