Thursday, August 28, 2014

Farmacy Garden helping needy families in rural Virginia learn to eat healthy

Health professionals in rural Virginia are prescribing produce to patients who can't afford to eat healthy, Tonia Moxley reports for The Roanoke Times. "The garden prescriptions are part of a new community project, led by the Virginia Department of Health and Montgomery County’s Virginia Cooperative Extension office, to provide hands-on health education and fresh food to residents at risk for obesity and chronic health problems." (Times photo by Matt Gentry: Farmacy Garden in Christiansburg, Va.)

Patients at New River Valley Community Health Center in Christiansburg (Wikipedia map) are among the neediest in the area, Moxley writes. "They suffer from poverty, a lack of health insurance and acute and chronic health conditions. Many qualify for food assistance programs, such as the health district’s Women Infants and Children nutrition program. But that help doesn’t fill all the gaps." Nurse practitioner Raschid Ghoorahoo told Moxley, "The clientele we see—they have no money, some of them have nothing and fresh fruits and vegetables are very expensive.”

And patients prescribed fruits and vegetables don't have to travel far to fill their prescriptions. The center has a garden—or Farmacy—on the premises, Moxley writes. "Families who qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance through the Women Infants and Children, or WIC, program administered by the health department can receive a bag of produce in exchange for performing some light chores in the garden. Those with Farmacy Garden prescriptions from health care providers can also qualify."

Christansburg is the second New River Health District, with the other one being in nearby Floyd, Moxley writes. Maintaining the gardens is not costly. "The 2013-14 budget for both gardens, including one-time materials to build the Christiansburg location was $13,883, according to the health district. The monies come from WIC outreach funds and the health department’s co-op funds." (Read more)

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