Fresh veg

Major funding from Kaiser Permanente—the integrated managed care consortium with nearly 9 million members—will enable the nonprofit Wholesome Wave  to expand its double coupon incentive programs in as many as 30 farmers markets nationwide.

The $1.2 million grant from Kaiser Permanente will go to Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupons Program active in more than ten states including California, Colorado, Georgia and Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia.  The funding allows for doubling the value of federal food assistance benefits if used at farmers markets in efforts to bring more people at or below the poverty line access to fresh foods.

Some of the funding will also support Wholesome Wave’s plans to expand its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, called FVRx. By providing “prescriptions” for fresh produce that can be retrieved at area farmers markets, physicians and health clinicians are now able to connect the clinical environment and community in eating a healthy diet full of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables essential for preventing nutrient deficiencies and serious illnesses.

Earlier this year, the USDA identified the nation’s “food deserts” where an estimated 13 million Americans live without easy access to fresh foods. Efforts to improve the health of the nation include incentives for farmers markets to come to food deserts, and the coupon program is one more component to connecting Americans with healthy eating habits.

Kaiser Permanente was able to make this program possible through its employee wellness program, which allocated $50 for more than 22,000 employees that underwent a health risk assessment in 2010.

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Image: gmtbillings