Produce Rx in Marion County: Produce Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon

What they do: The 12-month Produce Rx Program of the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) in Indiana provides participants with retail incentives to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local food retailers. Participants who attend nutrition education sessions where they learn how to buy, prepare, and eat more fruits and vegetables receive $90 each month to purchase fresh produce. In addition, MCPHD is piloting a local produce delivery option at Eskenazi Health Center sites for individuals with limited access and barriers to visiting grocery stores. 

Surveys are provided to participants at baseline and upon completion of the program to measure their knowledge, attitudes, and preferences regarding fruits and vegetables. Partnering healthcare providers also measure their hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI).

How they do it: MCPHD collaborates with three healthcare systems and contracts with a financial technology company to help run the program. Patients at one of the partnering healthcare systems who identify as being food insecure, receive SNAP benefits and/or are Medicare or Medicaid members, can enroll in the program through their healthcare provider. 

After completing the first nutrition education session, participants are mailed a preloaded Healthy Savings incentive card with $90 to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from participating food stores. (Kroger and Walmart are currently the only stores participating, but MCPHD is in the process of taking steps to get the Healthy Savings cards accepted at a locally-owned grocery store with five locations across the county.) On the first day of each month, for a total of 12 months, an additional  $90 is automatically loaded onto the card. Information on the distribution and spending of the money is collected to measure how funds are being utilized. 

Mission: To increase fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption in order to prevent or manage chronic diseases. 

Major Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention REACH, United States Department of Agriculture Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), Glick Fund, a CICF fund, Community Benefits-Community Health Network

Profit/nonprofit: Municipal corporation

Annual Budget: n/a

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Results have shown improvements in participants’ food security, increases in consumption of fruits and vegetables, and better understanding of how to purchase healthy foods on a budget.

FACT SHEET:

Locations:
Eskenazi Health Center
Community Health Network – Community REACH Clinics
Jane Pauley Health Center

Core Programs: Produce prescription program

Number of staff: 3

Number of volunteers: 0

Areas served: Marion County, Indiana

Year Started: 2019

Program Manager: Michelle Shippy, MS, RDN

Contact Information: 
Michelle Shippy, Nutrition Incentive Program Manager
Email: mshippy@marionhealth.org 
Phone: 317-221-3527

Learn More:

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