It’s been more than four months since we officially launched our new Produce Prescription Program in partnership with Delaware Pediatrics. Generously funded by Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation, the new program provides patients who are at risk for food insecurity and diet-related health conditions with a “prescription” to receive fresh produce.
Recent studies have indicated a strong connection between food insecurity and heightened occurrence of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. This pilot seeks to utilize medical interventions to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among children and their families.
“We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Food Bank,” said Dr. Matthew Gotthold. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones to good health. The irony is those who need it the most have the least access.”
Participating families have the opportunity to visit the Food Bank van in the parking lot of either the Wilmington or Townsend Delaware Pediatrics office. Matt Talley, our Produce Access Coordinator, sets up the first and third Wednesday of the month in Wilmington and the second and fourth Wednesday in Townsend.
The program has been met with excitement by doctors, nurses and patient families. Each month 60 individuals participate in the program and receive a variety of fresh produce sourced from local farmers and the University of Delaware’s Fresh to You produce program.
“Getting fresh produce out to those in need is one of our top priorities at the Food Bank of Delaware,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We know that chronic disease and illness is tied to nutrition. We want to ensure that we are providing low-income Delawareans with the healthiest foods available.”
Over the summer, participants received watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, greens, apples, peppers and much more! Fortunately, the program does not end when our local growing season does. Families can expect to receive fresh produce year-round.
Ramiro Ortiz, a disabled veteran, who is also caring for five of his 12 grandchildren, participates in the distribution at the Wilmington pediatric clinic. “This program is very helpful. My little granddaughter loves the watermelon. We like to cut it up and put it in zip-lock bags.”
On select days a Food Bank nutrition educator is on site to provide guidance on how to prepare some of the fruits and vegetables. One participant mentioned how much she liked the pasta salad samples. Another mom said she is learning to use the items and made eggplant Parmesan for the first time ever. And one participant told us about the stuffed peppers she made one week during the summer.
To learn more about the Food Prescription Program at the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here!