Veggie Rx In The 2018 Farm Bill
In recent years, produce prescription programs, also known colloquially as “veggie scripts” or “veggie Rx,” have emerged as practical public health interventions that aim to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption, reduce food insecurity, and decrease health care costs. This study investigates how funding for a produce prescription program came to be included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Despite low expectations among some elected officials and nonprofit organizations that a produce prescription program would ultimately be included in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, funding was indeed incorporated as part of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentives Program (GusNIP), formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) program. Specifically, the Produce Prescription Program funds pilot projects for nonprofit organizations or state/local agencies to partner with health care providers to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income individuals suffering from or at risk of developing diet-related health conditions and to evaluate the impact of these types of projects on dietary health, food security, and healthcare use and costs. Throughout the five-year period of the current Farm Bill (2018) funding, valuable data, programmatic insights, and increased political support will likely inform future directions of produce prescription interventions and funding sources.