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IFPA makes progress for Produce Rx on Capitol Hill

produce prescription art

February 16, 2024 Washington, D.C. – Recently, the National Produce Prescription Collaborative hosted a fly-in that coincided with the first comprehensive Food is Medicine Summit hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in late January and early February.

IFPA BB #:378962 serves on the steering committee of the Collaborative. Scaling produce prescriptions and embedding them as a covered benefit in the federal health system is part of IFPA’s strategic efforts to grow consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and improve community health across the U.S.

“With 250 produce prescription programs currently operating in the U.S., the reality is we need this to scale to change the course of our nation’s health,” said IFPA Vice President of Nutrition & Health Mollie Van Lieu.

“Incorporating this program into the standards of clinical care for Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration, and Indian Health Services which cover more than 150 million Americans could be transformational.”

Recent data also make the case for the effectiveness of produce prescriptions.

Last year, Tufts University found produce prescriptions for 40- to 79-year-olds facing diabetes could prevent 296,000 cases of cardiovascular disease over their lifetimes. Such a program would cost $18,000 annually for each year of life gained, which is comparable to costs for screenings and control for blood pressure, cholesterol, and cancer.

A North Carolina nonprofit transformed a $500,000 produce prescription grant and turned it into $8 million in redemption of fruits and vegetables in a little over a year. Lower income consumers in the impacted market are now doubling their spend on fruits and vegetables.

Fly-in participants met with 19 influential policymakers from both sides of the aisle, including those with oversight on agricultural appropriations.

The HHS Summit saw the announcement of three public-private partnerships between the agency and Feeding America, Instacart, and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as the release of five principles that will guide the agency’s work:
• Recognizing that nourishment is essential for good health, wellbeing, and resilience.
• Facilitating easy access to healthy food across the health continuum in the community.
• Cultivating understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health.
• Uniting partners with diverse assets to build sustained and integrated solutions.
• Investing in the capacity of under-resourced communities.

“Produce prescriptions are food as medicine interventions,” said Van Lieu. “There’s plenty of evidence in other federal programs, like the USDA Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, that proves how fruits and vegetables can decrease health problems issues like obesity, but also influence positive health outcomes, such as the popular fruit and vegetable cash-value benefit in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. IFPA will continue to contribute our industry’s voice and expertise and fight for our involvement in important policy and regulatory discussions involving fresh produce.”

About the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)
The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)?is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain and the only to seamlessly integrate world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support. We exist to bring the industry together to create a vibrant future for all. We grow our member’s prosperity by conducting advocacy; connecting people and ideas; and offering guidance that allows us all to?take action?with purpose and confidence.

Contact: Ashley Sempowski, +1 (202) 303-3406