FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A program which helps people dealing with food insecurity and diet related illnesses is expanding in order to serve more of the community.
Parkview Health hosted an event Monday at its community greenhouse and learning kitchen on Beacon Street to announce the newest features to the program for 2023.
The program distributes fresh produce and offers nutritional classes to people in low-income communities with the goal of improving the participants’ health and reducing food insecurity in the city.
Participants go through Veggie RX for six months where they receive vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. They also attend four classes led by a registered dietician where they learn about the benefits of including produce into their diets and how to use them by doing tastings, demonstrations and making different meals.
Some of the new features for 2023 include increasing the number of people allowed to participate, accepting up to 425 people, up from 174 in 2022. In order to participate in Veggie RX, people must get a referral from their healthcare provider and must be on Medicaid, uninsured or experiencing food insecurity.
Lauren Knoop, project coordinator for Veggie RX, said past successes with the program led to them deciding to expand the number of people they will take.
“Our session are tailored towards people dealing with diet related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” Knoop said. “One thing our participants get to do is prepare four recipes and share them with the rest of the class.”
Another thing the program is introducing is electronic redemption cards to purchase produce at grocery stores. Participants are allowed to use the electronic vouchers at Kroger, Walmart and local farmers markets.
“With this program, we are trying to help reduce the impact of diet related diseases,” she said.
The program has received positive feedback from the participants and they love the fact they have a community of people they are doing it with.
“We are pleased that we are helping so many people by giving them access to fresh produce,” said Michelle Bojrab-Wray, director of the Veggie RX program and lead community outreach dietician for Parkview Health. “A really big part of our educational sessions is getting to learn about how produce impacts the body.”
To learn more about Veggie RX, visit www.parkview.com/health-resources/veggierx.