Produce prescription (PRx) programs have emerged as a preventive treatment to subsidize the cost of fruits and vegetables for people with lower income and have shown promise in improving diet quality and diabetes-related health outcomes (eg, glycated hemoglobin A1c). Researchers from the Department of Nutrition Science at East Carolina University worked with the Wayne Action Teams for Community Health (WATCH) Clinic, a safety-net clinic in rural Eastern North Carolina, and a local research farm to develop a PRx program for rural patients with type 2 diabetes and no health insurance. Preliminary patient surveys identified high levels of interest in a PRx program and a desire for recipes to accompany the produce. Formative evaluation results via telephone interviews with eligible patients identified transportation barriers to participation and the desire for complementary nutrition education and culinary resources. These results led to a delivery-based PRx program implemented from June through November 2021. Patients received weekly home delivery of an average of 4.7 pounds of fruits and vegetables and complementary nutrition and health education materials and culinary resources (cookbook, recipes). The level of patient satisfaction with the program was high; the reported level of consumption of produce, including unfamiliar produce, was high; educational resources were associated with increased knowledge and motivation to make healthful lifestyle changes, and glycemic control significantly improved. Ensuring that patients have a voice in the design and implementation of PRx programs is crucial to success. Ongoing use of rigorous formative and process evaluations can ensure appropriateness, use, and a positive effect of PRx programs, and they are needed to establish best practices for implementation.
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