Doctor's orders: Prescriptions for fruits and vegetables

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August 18, 2010, 5:25 pm
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(NECN: Amy Sinclair, Portland, Maine) - Doctors may tell you to eat your fruits and vegetables, but now, doctors in Massachusetts and Maine are writing you a prescription for it.

It's the height of the growing season, and farmer's markets around New England are bustling, but low-income families tend to stay away because of the price of produce.

Two new pilot programs are providing more access to healthy food and lowering health care costs at the same time.

Thanks to a new "Double Voucher" program, many families enrolled in the supplemental nutrition assistance program can get much more bang for their federally subsidized dollar.

The program is being funded with $15,000 from the nonprofit Wholesome Wave. Participants can essentially double their buy at the local farmer's market with matching incentive coupons worth up to $10 a week.

Wholesome Wave is also funding a new pilot fruit and vegetable prescription program that allows doctors to prescribe produce -- one serving per day -- to at-risk families, who would benefit from a healthier diet. Instead of filling prescriptions at the pharmacy, patients will fill baskets with preventative and tasty medicine -- at the farmer's markets.

These new pilot programs are also a win for local farmers, who benefit from the increased sales.

Tags: vegetables, Amy Sinclair, fruits, prescription, Wholesome Wave, double voucher program
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