Prescription Food Voucher Program
Clinic partners with CareOregon, My Street Grocery to provide healthy foods
|Richmond Clinic's Rachael Postman, RN FNP, left, chats with Krissy Logan, Food Prescription manager for Care Oregon.|
Patients at Family Medicine at Richmond who are struggling with diabetes or obesity, or who don’t have access to healthy food, are being given “prescription food vouchers” to use at the clinic for the next six Wednesdays.
"The goal of the program is to promote healthy food choices and to make healthy foods readily accessible to patients," said Rachael Postman, RN, FNP. "We have 35 refillable vouchers to hand out to patients who have been referred to the program by our providers."
Patients are eligible for three vouchers, sponsored by CareOregon. The vouchers are good for $15 worth of groceries from the My Street Grocery trolley, owned by Whole Foods Market, which will be set up at the clinic from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Wednesday. The prescription food voucher program runs through June 25.
"We want to provide all the assistance we can for patients, including filling the gaps in areas that are outside the scope of a provider's care," said Tom Wunderlich, manager, public policy, CareOregon. "Providing access to healthy food and education about healthy food choices is one of those gaps."
Patients who have been referred to the six-week program through their provider/nurse/counselor can pick up their vouchers at the front desk on May 28. They must sign a CareOregon release, allowing the organization’s staff to survey them regarding the program. The voucher distribution schedule is as follows:
- Voucher 1: Valid Wednesday, May 21, or Wednesday, May 28.
- Voucher 2: Valid Wednesday, June 4, or Wednesday, June 11.
- Voucher 3: Valid Wednesday, June 18, or Wednesday, June 25.
CareOregon started testing the prescription food program about a year ago, providing one-time, one-day vouchers to medical providers to distribute to patients who would benefit. Voucher utilization was nearly 100% when the My Street Grocery trolley was easily accessible in the clinic parking lot, compared to when patients had to travel to a brick-and-mortar location, said Krissy Logan, program manager for FoodRx, CareOregon. The current pilot with Richmond is running only six weeks - not long enough to generate lasting health benefits, but long enough to raise awareness of health food choices. Participating patients were given a questionnaire on May 21 - the first day of the pilot - and will be given the same questionnaire on June 25 - the last day of the pilot to measure effectiveness.
"We're not going to see any changes in health outcomes in six weeks," Logan said. But we're hoping for changes in habits and perhaps changes in patient's perceived health status," Logan said.
|Amelia Pape, food access coordinator for My Street Grocery/Whole Foods, assists a customer in Family Medicine at Richmond's parking log.|
Amelia Pape, food access coordinator for Whole Foods Market, founded My Street Grocery in 2011 and merged with Whole Foods about six months ago. She became interested in food access while a student at Portland State University, researching business models to address social problems. She became interested in the concept of urban food deserts - urban communities with limited access to fresh, healthy food choices.
"There are a lot of reasons for food deserts: Availability, transportation and income," Pape said. "... And access is more than just making food available. It's about education: How to shop healthy on a budget, why certain foods are healthy, what certain foods are, how to prepare foods and recipes. We try to incorporate all of these components into the program as a whole."
Postman has been working to bring a produce stand to Family Medicine at Richmond for the last two years.
"This is the first time we've been able to have a program subsidized," she said. "The response from patients has been really, really positive. We're all very excited."
My Street Grocery will be set up at Richmond beyond the CareOregon pilot, so that patients, staff and community members can continue to shop.