NEW YORKTwo New York City hospitals are joining a national program that lets doctors write high-risk, low-income patients prescriptions for fruits and vegetables.
Patients get $2 of "Health Bucks" coupons for each member of their family. The coupons can be used at farmers markets once a week.
The pilot program is being launched by Harlem Hospital and Lincoln Medical Center for 70 different families. Dr. Ross Wilson, Chief Medical Officer at Lincoln Medical Center, says that, in combination with prescriptions for exercise, the program was a revolution in how New York healthcare providers tackle obesity.
The program, the brainchild of Connecticut-based organization Wholesome Wave, has been used in eight other states. The New York program is a public-private partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.
"A food environment full of processed foods full of fat, sugar and salt is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases," New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, said in a news release. "The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program is a creative approach that, with the inclusion of Health Bucks, will enable at-risk patients to visit any of our 142 Farmers Markets and purchase the fruits and vegetables that will help them stay healthy."