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Dec. 5 - Forsyth Farmers’ Market to Launch “912 Food Farmacy” to Address Barriers to Making Healthy Food Purchases

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

December 5, 2019 - Forsyth Farmers’ Market (FFM) has received a $455,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to start a ‘produce prescription program’ in early 2020. 

This program, 912 Food Farmacy, will improve community health through nutrition education, increased access to fresh and local foods, and financial incentives for purchasing these healthy food items. 

FFM will partner with four local health clinics to serve low-income individuals who have, or are at risk for diet-related chronic diseases: Memorial Health Children’s Hospital, Chatham County Health Department, St. Joseph’s/Candler’s St. Mary’s Health Center, and J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center.

Brittany Lightsey, Children’s Wellness Coordinator at Memorial Health said, “Our families report barriers such as cost and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. We even found that for one family, they were sacrificing transportation dollars that could have been used to go to a food bank or pantry to come to our visits for guidance. 912 Food Farmacy will alleviate several of these obstacles, allowing our patients to meet their health goals and helping children in our region beat the odds of having a shorter life span than their parents.”

Each of the four participating clinics will recruit 50 to 70 participants, who must be low-income and be at risk, or currently have a diet related chronic disease. Once a month, participants will get a health check-in and attend a class on healthy living, nutrition information and take part in a cooking demo. At the end of the class, participants will receive fresh produce prescriptions, which are vouchers for fresh, local produce redeemable at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market on Saturdays or at any of Farm Truck 912’s 13 regular stops.  

Additionally, participants will be able to take a walking tour of the Saturday Market, learn about FFM’s SNAP doubling program, and learn how to incorporate seasonal produce into their diets and budgets.

 

The project will help people in our community fight obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases by strengthening healthy eating habits among at risk populations. Additionally, they hope to help families strengthen healthy mealtime habits by offering accessible and healthy food options as well as increasing knowledge of healthy eating.

The 912 Food Farmacy will offer $90,000 a year in direct financial incentives for the purchase of fruits and vegetables by lower income residents. In turn, that also means a $90,000 increase in sales for local produce farmers.  

“We are thrilled to have received this grant from the USDA," said Jeb Bush, executive director at Forsyth Farmers’ Market. "Produce prescription programs are proving to be a successful strategy for increasing produce consumption, reducing health disparities and food insecurity, and supporting local farmers. This program will allow us to make fresh, local produce both financially and physically accessible to many in our community as well as raise the income of small, local farmers.” 

The 912 Food Farmacy seeks to reduce the prevalence and impact of obesity related chronic disease by increasing healthy eating habits among at-risk populations and to increase healthy mealtime habits among families by making healthy food options more accessible and increasing knowledge of healthy eating. FFM estimates that the program will put $265,200 worth of healthy food incentives into the hands of participants and will benefit 34 different farmers through increased sales.

Savannah is one of only eight cities across the country to receive GusNIP funding towards produce prescription programs. Created in the 2014 Farm Bill and later expanded in the 2018 Farm Bill, The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) provides grants on a competitive basis to projects that help low-income consumers access and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables through “cash” incentives that increase their purchasing power at locations like farmers markets.

For more information, or to learn about enrolling in the program, please contact Jeb Bush at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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