The SEED’s Fresh Food Prescription (FFRx) program is a research project that is currently coming to the end of its second phase.
What we are researching, and how
Doctors and health care providers from the Guelph Community Health Centre write prescriptions for free fruits and vegetables to people with diet-related diseases (like diabetes). Participants redeem their prescriptions and over time, we measure the effects on their health. We partner with the University of Guelph, The SPROTT foundation, and the McConnell Foundation to evaluate the results, which could be used to advocate for including food in healthcare spending.
How it works
We currently have 60 households with 178 participants, who all live in Guelph. Prescriptions are redeemed for free fruits and vegetables through Groceries from The SEED, which offers 65+ produce items to choose from, and free home delivery.
Effects on food security
Pilot one of this project showed a reduction in severity of food insecurity for community members. Also, participants who used over 50% of their vouchers reported an average increase of 8 times per week for fruit consumption, and 7 times per week for vegetable consumption!
“The program was very good to me, I don’t have enough budget to buy vegetables and fruit, and, in this program, I have enough vegetables and fruit for the food for my family every week”Participant, Phase 1
Though we haven’t finished the research for the current second phase yet, we are hearing promising things from our participants that this program is supporting them in getting more fruit and vegetables for themselves and their families. However, with rising food prices, the vouchers only go so far. Participants are also telling us they would like vouchers to cover all foods like dairy, eggs and other protein foods that are very expensive in grocery stores.
Pilot one of FFRx had a positive impact on community building, as participants were able to socialize at in-person Community Food Markets. They commented on the welcoming, small community environment of the markets. Several participants felt more comfortable shopping at our markets then the grocery store.
For pilot two, the move from from in-person shopping to home delivery (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) has had a different community-building impact. Participants comment on the importance of being able to connect with our friendly customer service staff regularly. Additionally, participants are connected to other health care professionals, like dietitians and social workers, which helps build a sense of community and care.
One of our participants has been in FFRx since July 2021. She receives 10 dollars per week to buy fruit and vegetables. Additionally, she purchases discounted groceries from Groceries from The SEED.
She told us that since starting the program, she has noticed an increase in energy and that she has more vitality. She feels she sleeps through the night better.
She calls into our customer service team every week to order, as it is difficult for her to order over the internet. When asked about the customer service team she said, “they bring me joy, I like to sing to them and chat it up. They make me feel like I belong in my community, and I don’t belong alone.”
They make me feel like I belong in my community, and I don’t belong alone.FFRx Participant, Phase 2
This customer’s vouchers run out in July of 2022, as this phase of the program wraps up. She is hoping the program continues, as it helps her stretch her budget and provides her with fresher food at a higher standard and more choice compared to other food access programs and locations.
Looking to the Future
We need income-based solutions to food insecurity. Fresh Food Rx provides an income supplement in the form of coupons for fresh produce to help participants stretch their food budgets. We are working to secure additional funding to continue to provide this support for as long as possible. You can donate today to The SEED to support this cause.
Fresh Food Rx is adapting as we gain valuable feedback from community members, and we are striving to improve our model to better support participants.
We also plan to use our research outcomes to advocate for embedding food supports in healthcare. Stay tuned for more updates!