On Thursday September 29th, the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative attended the National Produce Prescription Collaborative (NPPC) Day of Action event in Washington D.C. The event follows the release of the White House National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health which set a goal to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases - while reducing related health disparities.
The NPPC Day of Action brought together professionals from across the nation working in the field of Produce Prescription to discuss the scientific research, its role in health equity, as well as case studies about the model’s use as a treatment and prevention intervention for patients and providers across the country.
The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative launched a pilot of Produce Prescriptions in Polk County last year and has a deep interest in the development of similar produce prescription programs nationwide, and the increased focus the issue of hunger and access to healthy foods will have as a result of the event. “Making access to healthy foods easier for the public is one of the most important ways we can help improve the overall health of our society, so that all members of our nation can live their healthiest lives.” Said Jeff Russell, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative Board President.
Through the Polk County Produce Prescription Pilot, the Healthiest State Initiative has seen first hand the effect that easily accessible fresh fruits and vegetables can have on a person's physical health. With $26,058 worth of prescription vouchers redeemed for fresh produce and 82 patients enrolled, 90% of participants reported they had a positive experience and a majority reported eating more fruits and vegetables after receiving the prescription for six months. Notably, there was a significant decrease in key biometric measurements including cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C. Produce prescription programs are proven to be effective in decreasing the barrier of access to fresh produce, which is a key change patients are told is necessary to improving their health.
Beyond the Produce Prescription Program, the Healthiest State Initiative supports other efforts to increase access to healthy eating and physical activity by providing access to Double Up Food Bucks and 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!
The goal of ending hunger and increasing both healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 is a seminal step toward improving the physical and mental health of every Iowan. “We are thrilled to see the attention on the important role of physical activity and healthy eating," said Jami Haberl, executive director for the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. "We are eager to work with our government, nonprofit and private sector partners to collaborate on efforts to ensure all Iowans can live their best life."
The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit http://www.iowahealthieststate.com.