Submitted by Unity Care NW

Unity Care NW is proud to announce their participation in the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program, an initiative aimed at promoting healthier eating habits, addressing food insecurity and chronic disease, and improving the well-being of Washingtonians. The Veggie RX program will increase access to fruits and vegetables for patients with low incomes who will be chosen to receive vouchers redeemable at Safeway grocery stores. Unity Care NW will prioritize patients who have or are at risk for developing diabetes and hypertension in their selection process.

Unity Care NW is a non-profit community health center with locations in Bellingham and Ferndale that provides whole-person primary care to more than 21,000 Whatcom County residents, regardless of their ability to pay. More than 81% of Unity Care NW patients are considered Low Income by the state of Washington, meaning they live in households with less than 80% of the median income for Whatcom County.

Support from DOH makes it possible for Unity Care NW to relaunch its popular Veggie RX program in a new iteration, to coincide with the new year after a hiatus initiated by the COVID pandemic. Out of a remarkable 106 applications statewide, Unity Care NW was selected as one of 11 new organizations to take part in this transformative initiative. The rigorous selection process underscores the significance of their commitment to tackling food insecurity and promoting health within our community.

Unity Care NW’s Veggie RX program team is selecting patients to participate in the program who will receive vouchers redeemable for fruits and vegetables at any Safeway store in Washington for the next 6 months. Patients must be currently experiencing food insecurity and have health conditions that could benefit from a healthier diet. Unity Care NW patients interested in Veggie RX should ask their care team about joining the program. Encouragingly, previous Veggie RX participants have reported improved food security, better ability to manage health conditions, and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. By partnering with Safeway as the participating grocery store, the program makes a wide variety of fresh and nutritious produce available in accessible locations across the state.

While Unity Care NW has previously implemented a Veggie RX program, the current initiative represents a renewed and strengthened commitment to addressing food insecurity in our community. The program’s success will be tracked and reported regularly, ensuring transparency and accountability. The January re-launch of Veggie RX aligns perfectly with the start of the new year, emphasizing the importance of beginning the year on a healthy note. Through this initiative, Unity Care NW aims to contribute to building a healthier, more resilient community by encouraging individuals to kick-start their resolutions with a focus on nutritious food choices.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program, which not only addresses the immediate needs of those facing food insecurity but also promotes long-term health and well-being. This initiative resonates strongly with our mission, and we are eager to do all we can to make a positive impact on the lives of our patients both within and outside of our health centers,” said Nicole Fields, Population Health Manager at Unity Care NW.

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