Food is medicine
See how M Health Fairview clinics and hospitals are “prescribing” access to free, locally grown food for patients experiencing food insecurity
It might come as a surprise, but some M Health Fairview care providers agree with the age-old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
They’re even giving out free apples.
In addition to providing a full spectrum of routine and specialized care, providers at several M Health Fairview clinics and hospitals across Minnesota also “prescribe” patients who are experiencing food insecurity access to free, locally grown food. Once a week during Minnesota’s growing season, enrolled patients stop by their clinic and receive a box of fresh produce grown by farmers in the region.
The initiative, known as Veggie Rx, was launched about six years ago by the M Health Fairview Community Advancement team and served a handful of families at a single clinic. Now, the program is in 10 clinics across the state, reliably providing produce to more than 1,000 patients each year, and is sustained by philanthropy.
According to the Wilder Foundation, in 2020, nearly 37% of Minnesotans were food insecure, lacked access to healthy foods, or did not have the resources to buy food for their households.
Veggie Rx represents just one element of a growing M Health Fairview commitment to address those barriers to good health and nutrition.
As Veggie Rx has grown, so too have related initiatives. Together, M Health Fairview food access programs are reducing food insecurity and helping more Minnesotans manage and prevent chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
“As an anchor institution rooted in our communities, we have a responsibility to use our expertise and resources to address the root causes of poor health and health inequities,” says John Swanholm, vice president of Community Advancement.
Make a gift to support Veggie Rx and other M Health Fairview community advancement programs at give.umn.edu/giveto/community.
See how M Health Fairview teams are getting fresh, healthy food to the Minnesotans who need it most.
ILLUSTRATION BY LISA HAINES