Fresh Farmacy

The Fresh Farmacy: Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program was established in 2015 to provide biweekly shares of local fruit and vegetables to those members of our community suffering from diet-related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. In addition to the bounty in each share, participants receive program support materials designed to build confidence in cooking and eating locally and seasonally, plus tips for safe storage and handling of produce at home.

In partnership with several private and public employers, the successful program has expanded to include Fresh Farmacy: Workplace Wellness Program which is designed to complement an employer’s existing wellness and health initiatives. In this format, shares are delivered directly to the workplace, and participants receive digital resources to support a shift to local and seasonal cooking and shopping habits. Many workplace programs include photo and recipe contests, additional optional shares of eggs and cheese, and tasting events throughout the season. Local Food Hub distribution staff works closely with our partner farms to plan production of products that are well suited for direct-to-consumer programs, such as personal melons, pints of fruit and cherry tomatoes, and meal-portion sizes of green beans, fingerling potatoes and leafy greens. Shares are comprised of 6 to 8 seasonal, local items and always include several no-cook items like fruit and salad greens.

Fresh Farmacy: Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program

The Fresh Farmacy: Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program is a partnership between Local Food Hub and the Thomas Jefferson Health District, Charlottesville Free Clinic, Sentara Starr Hill Health Center, City of Promise in the Westhaven community, and the University of Virginia Employee Wellness program, BeWell. Site managers identify and enroll patients who are at risk for diet related disease, and are ready to make a lifestyle change. Biometric data is gathered at the beginning, midpoint, and end of this 28-week program, and participants are also surveyed about their cooking and eating habits, and nutritional intake as a result of the program.

Local Food Hub works with our smallest partner producers to plan for and plant 14 shares worth of seasonal vegetables and fruit, including 6 to 8 items per week, at least 1 fruit, and several ‘no-cook’ items that are perfect for healthy snacks. Program materials include a recipe collection developed by students at the PB&J Fund Kitchen, a pantry starter kit, and support materials for varying reading levels featuring colorful ‘food families’ and simple tips to boost confidence and skills in the kitchen. From the start, the program was a tremendous success: Biometric data demonstrates improvements in weight and blood pressure, and surveys and focus groups provide myriad examples of improved wellness including changes in dietary habits, reduction in medications, confidence to begin an exercise program, and improvements in energy level and overall health.

Fresh Farmacy: Workplace Wellness Program

Local private and public employers know the value of a health: A healthy workplace attracts and retains good employees, and healthy employees are more productive overall. To that end, in partnership with Crutchfield Corporation, in 2015 Local Food Hub began a workplace wellness program entitled Farm to Workplace. The premise then, as now, is that busy households may be interested in sourcing and cooking farm-fresh food, but lack the time and skills that are required to shop for and prepare seasonal items. The visionary leaders at Crutchfield realized that by partnering with Local Food Hub on this program, they were investing in their employees’ health and job satisfaction, as well as supporting Local Food Hub’s work with small family farms.

Employees pay for their biweekly share of local fruit and vegetables, and may have the option of adding an egg share, or a cheese share. Participants in Fresh Farmacy: Workplace Wellness Program receive their program materials digitally, including a share preview (for shopping purposes!) and a reminder about share pick up time and location. While programs vary by site, most programs include contests and activities that serve to spark conversation and build bonds around strong wellness habits. At the end of each season, Local Food Hub creates a digital satisfaction survey to assess the season, and determine what changes might add value to the program.

Thank you, Local Food Hub supporters!

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