Getting better results in the clinic depends heavily upon what’s going on outside of it. Studies have shown that communities are extremely influential in the health of their members, impacting smoking habits, weight gain, and even happiness.
By engaging with communities instead of just individuals, clinics have the opportunity to cultivate a culture of wellbeing.
One strategy: Farmers market prescriptions, as popularized by non-profit Wholesome Wave. Since 2010, Wholesome Wave has been pairing community health providers with farmers markets in attempt to encourage overweight children at risk for diet-related diseases to eat more fruits and vegetables. When health providers give a prescription to be redeemed at a farmers market, the benefits are three-fold: Patients get more nourishing food and exposure locations that provide it, local farmers get a bump in revenue, and bonds between community members are strengthened.
In 2012, 55 percent of participants in Wholesome Wave’s 4-6 month Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx™) ate more fresh produce during the program than before it. Of the 815 children enrolled, 38 percent had decreased their BMI as a result. Ninety percent of participants were delivered information about healthy eating, and 58 percent saw the intervention through to its end. Based on data collected the year prior, farmers markets were bringing in $8000 extra, thanks to their participation in the FVRx program.
How to write a Farmers Market Prescription
Identify those who are most in need of healthier eating habits—overweight children, pregnant women, and those at risk for a diet-related disease.
Write a prescription for farmers market fruits and vegetables using the Flip the Clinic prescription pad. Start with a dose of one serving of fruits and one serving of vegetables per day for the patient and each family member living at home.
During the patient's next visit, ask them how it went at the farmers market and adjust the prescription accordingly.