In 2018 the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA) started VeggieRx, a program that forged partnerships with several Bend-based clinics to offer fresh vegetables and fruits to their patients experiencing hunger or food insecurity. VeggieRx is a fresh food prescription program for people experiencing food insecurity and a diet-modifiable disease like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
In the last year HDFFA graduated 87 participants from the program and impacted over 200 people through VeggieRx. Participants ate more vegetables and fruits, experienced less food insecurity, and attributed their improvement of health to the program. Participants received $20 worth of produce vouchers, weekly, for the Bend Farmers Market, for 8 consecutive weeks. Participants worked closely with a registered dietitian nutritionist to learn to purchase, prepare and cook fresh food, understand the importance of vegetables and fruit to a healthy diet, and gain access to additional nutrition education resources.
The program not only assisted those struggling with diet-modifiable disease but also supported our local economy. Almost $12,000 was spent at the Bend Farmers Market and put into the pockets of 12 participating farmers. Using an established Central Oregon multiplier of 1.74, it’s estimated that this resulted in a $20,600 investment into the local food economy.
This was all made possible by collaborating with a network of over 50 providers referred over 300 people to this grant funded program. In 2019, HDFFA is partnering with said providers to expand the VeggieRx program in Bend to more individuals. With funding from the Central Oregon Health Council Regional Health Improvement Plan, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup, HDFFA aims to serve 175 people within Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook county.
For 2019 HDFFA will be offering VeggieRx again in Bend as well as two additional communities, Redmond and Prineville. For Prineville, they are excited to announce that HDFFA is partnering with NeighborImpact and their Fresh To You fresh produce truck. Fresh To You is a mobile food pantry that will be parked at Mosaic Medical in Prineville twice a month starting in June.