The Food Bank of Delaware launched its Produce Prescription Program in June 2016 at Delaware Pediatrics thanks to a generous three-year grant from Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation. Since the launch, the program has expanded to include an additional pediatric clinic, Brandywine Pediatrics in North Wilmington.
Thanks to the program, doctors are able to “prescribe” a “prescription” for patients to receive fresh produce from the Food Bank of Delaware. Referred patients are at risk for food insecurity and diet-related health conditions. The Food Bank van travels to the clinics throughout the month, and families receive 15-20 pounds of assorted fresh produce.
In addition to fresh foods, patients also participate in food demonstrations led by staff members from the Food Bank’s Nutrition Education and Culinary departments. Showing patients how to use the produce helps introduce new recipes to the household and ways to incorporate fresh foods on a daily basis.
Most recently, the Nutrition Education team demoed a fresh fruit salad and corn salsa, and the Culinary chefs showed patients how to make an easy mango smoothie and mango salsa.
Dr. Robert Walter’s pediatric practice, Brandywine Pediatrics, is the latest clinic to participate in the program. Brandywine Pediatrics has been participating for just three months now, and Dr. Walter is already seeing the benefits for his patients.
“Many parents mention how excited the kids are when they get the box,” he points out.
Having parents talk about fruits and vegetables with their children is a great way to start improving diets, Walter says.
“Some have discovered new vegetables for the first time like a 12-year-old who never had broccoli before. Other children who never saw blackberries before this and really loved them. Another 12-year old made an artichoke dip and vegetable stir fry based on recipes at pick up,” he explains.
Between the two pediatric clinics, 97 families pick up each month.
“I really look forward to it,” says Mrs. Ferguson, a program participant at Brandywine Pediatrics who is also caring for her great nephew. “It fills in those empty spots where the money doesn’t stretch enough. It really helps out.”
Dr. Walter says the Produce Prescription is a great start to improving health outcomes for patients. “There are many barriers to access fresh foods including that often processed foods are cheaper than fresh fruits, per calorie. This is a great way to expose children to new fruits and vegetables and also get the parents involved to help role model good eating habits.”
To learn more about the Produce Prescription Program, please click here.