When Katie Molitor joined the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture in 2019, she knew Boone County needed to put nutritious, affordable food on more tables.
Two years later, she came up with a plan: Give year-long prescriptions to patients for fresh fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet. The idea took root, and the result is Produce Prescription, which makes fresh produce available with a prescription.
Compass Health writes the prescriptions for families with children under 19 to exchange for produce tokens at the Columbia Farmers Market. The vouchers can be redeemed at any of the market vendors.
Since 2021, the program has distributed around $118,000 in fresh produce, with families getting up to $20 each to spend every week.
This seems to be a really effective type of public health intervention to help people with chronic diseases and people who are food insecure, Molitor said.
The United States is mired in a health and hunger crisis, including in the Midwest. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the lack of consistent access to enough food to live an active, healthy life.