Veggie prescriptions to be in use again this summer

PORT TOWNSEND — VegRx, a fruit and vegetable prescription program that began in 2018, will return this year in June.

The program — which aims to connect more lower-income families with fresh, locally-grown produce — is the result of a partnership between Jefferson Healthcare, Jefferson County Farmers Markets and the Port Townsend Food Coop.

Coupons for VegRx will be distributed to qualifying families during pediatric clinic visits at Jefferson Healthcare hospital, the hospital announced in a press release Wednesday.

Coupons can be redeemed at the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Market booths starting in June.

When the market season closes in December, the Port Townsend Food Coop will step in and offer a voucher for fresh fruit and vegetables good January through March.

The 2018 pilot program aimed to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, support equitable food access, and support the local food economy.

It specifically targets families with children.

“The poverty rate for children under 13 is higher in Jefferson County than the Washington state average,” hospital officials said in the release.

The Jefferson County Farmers Markets organization has robust food assistance matching programs, the release said.

“VegRx recipients who qualify for SNAP and FMNP will also be able to get those federal food assistance dollars matched at the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets,” said Amanda Milholland, market director.

“We are committed to continuing our work and strengthening our community partnerships so all people in our community, regardless of income, can access nutritious, locally grown food.”

VegRx partners are working to expand the reach of the program to serve more families this year, according to the release.

Dr. Molly Parker is championing the program within the Jefferson Healthcare primary care clinics, the release said.

“We could have reached additional families last season, and we didn’t, which was disappointing, so now we can spread the word about the program and make sure every available coupon is given to an eligible family,” Parker said.

“I’d much rather write a prescription for fruits and vegetables to prevent illness than write a prescription for pills after an illness has occurred.”

Donations to the VegRx program, can be given through the Jefferson County Farmers Markets, online at http://jcfmarkets.org/.

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