Food as Medicine: How the BCBSM Foundation Supports Produce Prescription Programs

Food as Medicine: How the BCBSM Foundation Supports Produce Prescription Programs

This is the third in a series of posts about the connections between eating fresh produce and better health. This post details how the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is supporting various initiatives across the state.
Food scarcity and access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a problem in many Michigan communities.

A 2015 report found that 17.9 percent of Michigan residents are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to healthy food. It also found that 1.8 million Michigan residents, including an estimated 300,000 children, live in communities with limited access to supermarkets.

Programs are popping up across the state to connect local health and food systems in order to expand access to fresh food while simultaneously improving the health of vulnerable communities. Here are two such programs the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation has chosen to support in different ways.

From Detroit …
On Thursdays in the summer, the Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center in Detroit hosts an on-site farmers market. Many of the people shopping the colorful rows of fruits and vegetables have a prescription to do so.
Known as The Fresh Prescription, the initiative was launched in 2013 as a collaboration between CHASS, the Ecology Center, Eastern Market and the Fair Food Network. It brings together the food system and health system in Detroit by working with health care providers to prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to their patients.

Based on a program called Prescription for Health, originally developed by the Washtenaw County Health Department, the community health initiative aims to address both chronic disease and food insecurity. CHASS’ program incorporates cooking demos and other educational components to further help patients develop healthy habits.