Do food prescriptions work in Idaho?

The answer is yes, and now there is proof. The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health funded an evaluation of a local food prescription pilot program that showed improved health benefits for participants.

The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force offers an Rx for Fresh Fruits and Vegetable (RxforFFV) pilot program that assists low-income, food-insecure individuals with diabetes and pre-diabetes in the Treasure Valley by providing monthly vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh fruits and vegetables at no charge from certain stores.

The Foundation chose to fund the study because food is a main contributor to health and chronic conditions, and the study could inform expanding the program by offering data-based evidence to healthcare providers and vendors.

The study, which was conducted by the Gretchen Swanson Nutrition Center in Omaha, Neb., showed HbA1c levels of participants decreased by 12.77 percent, from an average of 8.69 to 7.58. The four-month study also showed that participants ate more fresh fruits and vegetables, perceived their own health to be better after the program, experienced weight loss and other health benefits.

The report is being shared locally, regionally and nationally with organizations interested in food prescription or similar programs. Webinars are being conducted to showcase the report and the RxforFFV program. The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force hopes the results could prompt expansion and support of the program outside of the Treasure Valley.

You can view and download the report on the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force website.