'Farmacy' prescribes veggies to families
MIDDLEBURY – Addison County’s inaugural food-based prescription program, Farmacy, ran for 12 weeks this summer and provided a bounty of incredibly fresh local produce to 45 patients and families. The Farmacy Program, a collaboration of ACORN, the Vermont Department of Health, Bristol’s Mountain Health Center, Middlebury’s UVM Porter Medical Center, Middlebury Natural Foods Coop and three local farmers, kicked off in July and came to a close at the end of September.
Patients suffering from, or at risk of, chronic or nutrition-related illness received prescriptions for free weekly CSA-type boxes of local fruits and vegetables. Weekly boxes included summer favorites such as strawberries, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn, and also introduced patients to items they might not be as familiar with, such as tomatillos, Asian eggplant and baby bok choy.
An education committee comprised of dieticians, nutritionists and educators provided creative recipes along with corresponding tasty samples like cheddar kale scones and chilled ginger carrot soup to encourage patients to try something different once they got home.
The “food as medicine” concept, while new to the Champlain Valley, has been around for a few years in other parts of Vermont, including Rutland County, as well as across the country. “This was a great pilot program that we hope to continue and expand in the future.” says ACORN’s Executive Director, Lynn Coale.
While official data is still being processed, a few highlights can be gleaned from the patients’ exit surveys. One patient proudly proclaimed “My cholesterol isn’t as high” since participating in the Farmacy Program, and another declared “I’ve lost over 10 pounds.”
ACORN and its partners look forward to continuing the program in 2020 with more families who live around the Champlain Valley. “Between supporting our local farmers and boosting the health of our neighbors, this is a win-win program for the entire community,” says Coale.