Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, which actually allows doctors in the NYC area to give at-risk families better access to local produce. The program allows them to prescribe fruit and vegetables!
Obese and overweight patients and their families can be given “Health Bucks”. These can be redeemed at more than 140 NYC farmers markets. They are essentially free vouchers for truly better health.
“We’re not only teaching them just about eating healthy,” said Dr. Shefali Khanna with Lincoln Medical Center. “This is really an investment for the future. We hope we have a whole generation of kids who benefit from this, and reach adulthood at a healthy optimal weight.”
The program gives patients $1 in Health Bucks each day for each member of their family over a period of four months. For a family of four, that’s about $120 each month in fruits and veggies. Considering these at risk families are often limited to bodegas in the city and the food stamp system that essentially subsidizes junk food makers, $120 in produce can go a long way.
The federal “food stamp” program, more accurately called SNAP, feeds more than 100 million Americans—the same Americans who are most at risk for preventable lifestyle-related diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“The SNAP program is nothing more than a big government handout to junk food manufacturers and soda companies. That’s because food stamp money can be spent on all the processed junk foods and sodas that make people sick and diseased with conditions like diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and more.
Through SNAP, the federal government is subsidizing the foods that cause sickness! Obviously, this also drives up health care costs and deeply harms the overall U.S. economy.”
While eliminating these subsidies would be a major (but worthwhile) undertaking, merely supplementing the federal food program with something like the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program would be a huge step in the right direction.
In the upside-down world we live in, the Food and Drug Administration won’t admit that foods are a significant part of illness and disease prevention or treatment, and doctors are more apt to give you pills than healthful eating and lifestyle tips. In this world, it’s not often we see officials taking a progressive step towards natural health and away from our overdependence on Big Pharma.
However, sometimes it does happen, and in New York City, it’s happening now. The largest city in the nation (and global leader itself) is taking a stand for natural health and true wellness. Here’s hoping they are only the first in many more to come.
Health-e-Solutions comment: Kudos to New York City for making an effort to change the direction of our current health crisis. I am sure it will not be a perfect program, but it is a step in the right direction at least.