Cornell Cooperative Extension is pleased to announce the expansion of a SNAP-Ed Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program in partnership with local health care providers and local produce vendors. The FVRx Program is an initiative of Extension’s North Country Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program (SNAP-Ed), which provides services in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Franklin, Clinton, and Essex Counties..
The North Country Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (NC FVRx) will provide referred patients with $25 worth of vouchers for fresh produce at each of six weekly workshops. The workshops, led by SNAP-Ed nutrition educators, will educate participants on the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in fresh, whole foods, helping them stretch their food dollars, learning how to prepare healthy recipes at home, and will include food demonstrations and tastings of fresh, local ingredients. In addition to receiving produce vouchers at the workshops, attendees will also receive kitchen incentive items to ensure they have the resources they need to cook fresh ingredients at home.
The initiative is made possible through Extension’s collaboration with health care providers across the region. One health care partner, Community Health Center of the North Country; although medical services are available to all families across the North Country, as Federally Qualified Health Centers, their mission focuses on making sure low-income individuals and families have access to care.“Our team believes strongly in helping North Country families before there is a problem.Partnering with Cornell Cooperative Extension on what in essence is a preventive care program for some of our most vulnerable residents is a great example of collaboration at its best,” says Ray Babowicz, Director of Communications and Marketing for Community Health Center of the North Country.
Fidelis Care and GusShumacher Nutrition Incentive Program has generously supported the FVRx Program with monetary contributions to provide incentives in the form of FVRx coupons, which will be distributed to program participants at the completion of each class. The FVRx coupons will augment any existing SNAP benefits to increase the consumer’s purchasing power with partnering produce distributors, farmer’s markets, and roadside stands. The objective is to promote healthy eating through affordable access to fruits and vegetables. Workshops will enable participants to connect directly with local farmers and produce distributors to establish long lasting relationships and a continued use of EBT benefits with local producers.
“Fidelis Care is proud to work with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Community Health Centers of the North Country to support and encourage health and wellness within our local community,” said Pam Hassen, Chief Member Engagement Officer. “Our collaboration will help individuals make healthy changes while providing them with affordable access to fruits and vegetables, which can often be a barrier to change.”
"Since its creation in 2019, GusNIP projects have increased access to healthy foods, and this investment serves to ensure that even more consumers can provide fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables for their families,” said Dr. Dionne Toombs, Acting Director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the entity administering the awards. GusNIP programs strive to improve dietary health by improving access to fresh produce and giving participants the education and resources they need to prepare and eat more fruits and vegetables, improve individual and household food security, and reduce health care use and associated costs. GusNIP Produce Prescriptions leverage medical assistance programs to provide “prescriptions” from a healthcare provider for fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The CDC has stated that clinically-based FVRx Programs coupled with nutrition education can be an effective way to improve diets in low-income households,” says Cassondra Caswell, North Country SNAP-Ed Program Manager.“Extension believes this program will improve nutrition security, better connect underserved populations with local farmers and food producers, and create a lasting network of community partners, local farmers and the families we serve.”
Additional information can be found on our website at SNAP-Ed New York (snapedny.org) or by contacting 315-379-9192.
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Last updated January 11, 2023