Seattle launches fresh produce "prescription" program

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle, Odessa Brown Children's Clinic Harborview Medical Center and Seattle and King County farmers markets have worked together to launch Fresh Bucks Rx, a program aimed at improving health outcomes for low-income patients with diet-related diseases.

The program will be an addition to Seattle's Fresh Bucks food access program. The difference is with this program, health providers can prescribe fruits and vegetables to their patients. Patients will be able to use vouchers from their providers to redeem foods at farmers markets or farm stands.

According to Seattle's Office of Sustainability and Environment, food insecurity and lack of access to healthy food is a key factor in diet-related diseases. Fresh Bucks Rx is intended to incorporate healthy food access into health care visits. It allows medical providers the opportunity to talk with patients about nutrition and food insecurity, along with actual support for families to buy healthy food.

"The Fresh Bucks Rx program addresses such a critical need in our community," said Lottie Cross, Director of Clean Greens Farm and Market. "Not only does it help keep individuals healthy, it helps keep our community healthy by supporting local farmers and organizations. We're so happy to be able to serve people through this program."

A study conducted last year shows Hispanics to be three times more likely than white or Asian adults to report a food hardship. The program hopes to target those communities affected by food hardships, and make obtaining healthy food more affordable, and accessible.