People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases, but access to those fresh foods can be difficult for some patients.
Regional One Health is proud to be the first health care provider in Memphis to launch Fresh Savings, a program that encourages patients at our South Third Primary Care office to eat more plant-based foods. South Third Primary Care is a resource for Fresh Savings vouchers that allow patients to buy $60 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables each month.
Thanks to an AARP grant, Regional One Health was able to begin the voucher program in March. AARP Foundation funds the program through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The vouchers can be used at neighborhood farmers markets and area Kroger stores.
Patients make monthly appointments with their medical provider to receive their voucher. That monthly appointment gives providers an opportunity to closely follow the patient’s medical progression. The majority of participating patients struggle with obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure, and need to improve their diet. These vouchers for free fresh fruits and vegetables plays an important role.
“They have to be compliant to their care plan that their provider lays out to them,” said Temond LeSure, practice manager of South Third Primary Care. “We selected the individuals to be part of this. It’s people who are willing to follow a care plan their providers laid out to them and also to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Fresh produce provides nutrients that help maintain healthy blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, maintain healthy eyes and skin, heal cuts and wounds, and protect against certain types of cancer. These vouchers will help more people access those vital fruits and vegetables as part of their diet.
Sixty-five patients received vouchers in March at South Third Primary Care. There are opportunities for new patients to enroll in the program.
“We already have success stories,” LeSure said. “I’ve seen people who are so thankful for these vouchers. They’ve thanked us for this extra little bit that helps them buy extra food for their household. One lady stressed that this is a miracle that she can come to her doctor’s appointments and get these vouchers for her family to eat healthier.”
The vouchers also encourage more patients to keep their appointments, providing an extra incentive to get important maintenance care.