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Produce Prescription Programs is changing the way doctors treat chronic illness in Waco

The Produce Prescription Program is exactly what it sounds like. Doctors at Waco Family Medicine prescribe patients free boxes of produce to better their health.

WACO, Texas — You can get a new kind of prescription in Waco and it comes in the form of fruits and veggies.

It's part of the Produce Prescription Program. 

Doctors at Waco Family Medicine decide whether their patients need fresh produce. If needed, a prescription will be made for certain produce, just like if you were to be prescribed a medication. Then, World Hunger Relief helps fulfill the prescription.

The prescriptions are based on the needs of someone's diet and ability to access food.

"And it's more focused on health, connecting to food - food is medicine," Katie Walter, with the World Hunger Relief Farm said.

The program began in 2017. In the first four years 10,000 boxes were prescribed to Wacoans who sought care at Waco Family Medicine. 

From that, Walter said 87% of patients noticed a positive difference in their mental health.

Though the program hasn't had enough time to definitively prove whether the access to this produce is changing lives, Dr. Burritt Hess with Waco Family Medicine, said he's noticed positive changes in his patients as well.

"I think intuitively we're going to make a larger difference in their life than if we were just dispensing medication or handing out educational papers," Dr. Hess added.

The program has evolved since it first started. Today, people not only receive their produce boxes, but they also learn how to cook with the produce inside.

A chef comes in to Waco Family Medicine to teach the patients. Then they get to go home and put that knowledge to use. 

The next program starts up this spring, but without another grant, this could be the last one.

That's why World Hunger Relief Incorporated is asking for your help.

If you would like to donate and help this cause, click here.

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