¡Más Fresco! Plus: Produce Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: The University of California San Diego (UCSD)’s ¡Más Fresco! Plus program brings fresh, local produce to San Diego County residents who are experiencing food insecurity and diet-related chronic diseases. It is an expansion of UCSD’s original ¡Más Fresco! nutrition incentive program, which requires that participants be enrolled in CalFresh (California’s food benefit program). The expanded program does not require CalFresh membership for participation.

Depending on participants’ needs, they receive one of the following:

  • A produce box delivered to their door twice a month for 12 months, valued at $50 per month
  • A healthy food card loaded with $50 per month to purchase healthy foods – including fresh, prepackaged, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains – from participating stores. 

Approximately 2,500 households will participate in the program over three years.

The program is part of a UCSD research study to determine how nutrition incentives impact access to healthy foods and the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Key outcomes measured include changes in fruit and vegetable access and consumption, food security, and self-reported health status, measured via pre- and post-participation surveys.

How they do it: ¡Más Fresco! Plus was developed by the UCSD Center for Community Health at the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. The Center for Community Health collaborates with the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency Self-Sufficiency Programs, the American Heart Association, the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative Community Council, and various San Diego County community-based organizations (CBOs) to run the program.

Staff at clinics and CBOs conduct community outreach and recruitment to identify participants, provide program referrals, and facilitate the enrollment process. The individuals they recommend must be people at least 18 years old with a San Diego County mailing address who could benefit from increased access to fruits and vegetables. One individual per household may participate, and past participants are not allowed to re-enroll.

After an individual receives a referral to the program, he or she can enroll online (enrollment is at capacity for the current year) or call or e-mail to have a program staff member help with enrollment. Once their enrollment is completed, participants will receive either a produce box delivery from Foodshed Cooperative Inc. or Yasukochi Family Farms, or a healthy food card from Foodsmart. Retailers that accept the healthy food card include Albertson’s, Food4Less, Ralph’s, Vons, and Walmart locations in San Diego County. Food cards are automatically loaded with $50 at the beginning of each month, and unused funds from previous months will roll over to the next month.

Mission: To increase access to and consumption of healthy foods in order to improve health and nutrition status among individuals with food insecurity and/or diet-related chronic diseases, while also supporting local farmers and retailers.

Major Funding: County of San Diego Board of Supervisors

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $1,000,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: ¡Más Fresco! Plus serves many of the most vulnerable populations in San Diego County, including racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, seniors, individuals with disabilities or other chronic illnesses, and low-income residents. Approximately 65 percent of participants have at least one chronic health condition at enrollment, and 75 percent report low or very low food security and not being able to afford balanced meals.

By the end of the three-year program, 46,368 produce boxes will have been delivered, and local farmers and grocery stores will have received close to $1.7 million to serve healthy foods to residents in need.


Referring Organizations
Alliance Health Clinic
5952 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

Comité Organizador Latino de City Heights (COLCH)

Union of Pan Asian Communities
1031 25th Street
San Diego, CA 92102

430 F Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Vista Community Clinic: multiple locations

Core Programs: Produce prescription program and general nutrition incentive program

Number of staff: 4

Number of volunteers: 3

Areas served: San Diego County, CA

Year Started: 2022

Program Director: Joe Prickitt, MS, RD

Program Manager: Trixy Joy Manansala, MPH, CHES

Evaluation Manager: Adriana Bearse, MS

Contact Information: Phone: 888-315-6602 | Email: masfrescoplus@health.ucsd.edu

Learn More:¡Más Fresco! Plus

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