What they do: The Washington State Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FV Rx) is run by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with 11 healthcare organizations. To be eligible for the program, patients must be food-insecure and have or be at risk for a chronic disease. This year, providers are enrolling patients who have cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, obesity, and/or kidney disease. Healthcare providers give eligible patients paper vouchers worth $10 per week for six months (a total of $250 worth of vouchers). The vouchers can be redeemed at any Safeway store in the state for fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables without added salt, sugar, or fat.
Depending on the partner clinic, some participants may also receive nutrition education, diabetes prevention classes, or other types of educational sessions.
How they do it: Partner healthcare organizations determine patients’ food security status based on their responses to the Hunger Vital Signs screener that is provided during intake. Those who are food insecure and have or are at risk for the above-mentioned chronic conditions are referred to the program.
Most partner providers distribute a month’s worth of vouchers at a time during a clinic visit or class, but the clinics also have the option to give patients all six months’ worth of vouchers at one visit. The vouchers have monthly expiration dates to encourage recipients to spread their use of the vouchers over the six-month period rather than using them all at once.
Although the FV Rx vouchers are currently redeemable only at Safeway stores, DOH is working on shifting to a more technology-based process in 2024 in order to allow for electronic benefits that are automatically loaded onto a card each month and can be used at a more diverse selection of food retailers, including independent grocers, bodegas, and farmers’ markets.
Outcomes are measured through enrollment and exit questionnaires completed by each participant. The questions focus on food security, general health, fruit and vegetable intake, and demographic information. Clinics that have biometric health data available will remove patients’ identifying information and share the data with an analyst at DOH.
Mission: To increase access to fruits and vegetables in order to improve the health and nutrition of food-insecure individuals with chronic disease.
Major Funding: Washington State
Profit/nonprofit: N/A – government program
Annual Budget: $500,000
Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: From 2016 through 2022, FV Rx distributed more than $1.7 million worth of fruits and vegetables to program participants. One hundred percent of questionnaire respondents reported an increase in fruit and vegetable intake and an improvement in health as a result of participation in the program.
Community Health Center of Snohomish County
Harborview Medical Center
MultiCare Health System’s Center for Health Equity and Wellness
Nisqually Tribal Health Services
Puget Sound Kidney Centers
Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic
Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital
Yakima Neighborhood Health Services
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinics
Core Programs: Produce prescription program
Number of staff: 1
Number of volunteers: 0
Areas served: Washington State Counties: Grays Harbor, Thurston, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Clark, Yakima, Franklin, Walla Walla, Spokane
Year Started: 2016
Program Coordinator: Lauren Lubowicki
Contact Information: FVIP@doh.wa.gov
- Fruit and Vegetable Prescriptions (Washington State Department of Health)
- Fruit and Vegetable Rx in Focus (Washington State Department of Health)
- Washington’s Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program (Washington State Department of Health)