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Analysis

Loyola Medicine's VeggieRX Gives Low-Income Patients Free Vegetables

By John Commins  
   August 06, 2019

The program hopes to address the widespread problem of food insecurity and 'food deserts' in some urban areas.

Maywood, Illinois-based Loyola Medicine is giving its low-income patients a free, 10-pound basket of fresh vegetables every week, along with recipes, nutrition classes and cooking shows.

The program, VeggieRx, is a collaboration with Loyola University Chicago, Proviso Partners for Health, and Windy City Harvest, the urban agriculture education and jobs-training initiative that operates urban farms in Chicagoland.

"The vegetables vary each week, depending on what's being harvested in the urban farms," Brittany Calendo, Windy City Harvest's VeggieRx coordinator, said in a media release.

"For example, the vegetables given away one recent Thursday included leeks, scallions, purple top turnips, beets, collards, cabbage and garlic, along with information on how to store and prepare them," Calendo said.

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VeggieRx gives away vegetables during the harvest, and participants also get coupons to double food stamp purchases at Windy City Harvest farm stands

In addition, each week registered dietitian Mary Mora with Proviso Partners for Health does a cooking class for the week's featured vegetables, and gives a nutrition talk on topics such as sugar, sodium, heart-healthy fats and reading food labels  

Lena Hatchett, executive lead of Proviso Partners for Health, said VeggieRx addresses the widespread problem of food insecurity and food deserts in some urban areas, which affects many low-income people.  

Hatchett and her colleagues are gathering data to test their premise that VeggieRx will prove to be a cost-effective way to reduce the toll of obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"We believe a small investment in food will have a large benefit in people's health," Hatchett said.  

“We believe a small investment in food will have a large benefit in people's health.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

VeggieRx, is a collaboration with Loyola University Chicago, Proviso Partners for Health, and Windy City Harvest, the urban agriculture education and jobs-training initiative that operates urban farms in Chicagoland.

Each week a registered dietitian does a cooking class for the week's featured vegetables, and gives a nutrition talk on topics such as sugar, sodium, heart-healthy fats and reading food labels. 

The project is gathering data to test a premise that VeggieRx will prove to be a cost-effective way to reduce the toll of obesity-related conditions.


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