For Immediate Release
December 6, 2017

CONTACT:  Yvonne Ketchum-Ward, (208) 898-3828,

OR Susan Lamontagne, 631.899.4780,

Doctor’s Orders: A Prescription for Fresh Fruits and Veggies to Cure Hunger, Control Diabetes

Idaho Primary Care Association and Terry Reilly Health Services launch pilot project made possible with $125,000 grant from RCHN Community Health Foundation

NEW YORK AND NAMPA, ID– When the only grocery store serving the neighborhoods near the Terry Reilly Health Services (Terry Reilly) location at 16th Street in Nampa closed its doors, it placed a community with few transportation options, and vast food deserts at risk. In response, the Idaho Primary Care Association (IPCA), Terry Reilly and other community partners are launching the “Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program” (FVRx).

The new initiative, serving Nampa’s 1st and 16th street communities, is made possible by a $125,000 grant from the RCHN Community Health Foundation.

FVRx has three objectives: encourage providers to promote their patients’ health by writing prescription for fruits and vegetables; empower patients to acquire foods and cooking skills to create lasting lifestyle change; and benefit food retailers and farmers by increasing demand for local fruits and vegetables. 

“A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is a cure for hunger and the best medicine to control diabetes and stay healthy,” said Idaho PCA CEO Yvonne Ketchum-Ward. “This grant will help us test the best ways to get fresh foods to people who live between the railroad and the freeway, which is one of the worst food deserts in Nampa.”

Using registered dieticians and community health workers to staff the pilot program, the health center will work in collaboration with the Nampa Mobile Farmer’s Market, Saint Luke’s Health System, and St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The program will initially target people with diabetes, those at risk, and their families. If successful, Idaho PCA plans to work with other community health center organizations to expand the program across the state.

“Dr. Jack Geiger, the founding father of the community health center movement, famously said ’The last time we looked in the book for a specific therapy for malnutrition, it was food,’” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “We are pleased to support this exciting project that recognizes food as medicine, and share lessons learned from this innovative pilot to improve care for high-risk communities.”

Idaho PCA is one of five grantees in five states to receive $125,000 each to launch an innovative approach to improve community health. Other projects include initiatives to reduce ER visits and hospitalizations among complex, high-use patients at Fenway Health in Boston, MA; integrate primary care with mental health, substance use treatment, and social support services at ACCESS Community Health Network in Chicago, IL; improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for those at risk for diabetic and other chronic illnesses at Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, AZ; and identify and tackle housing triggers of asthma and other health conditions at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles, CA.

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The Idaho Primary Care Association (IPCA) has been the leading state advocate for community-based health care programs since 1983. The association plays a vital role in educating federal, state and local policy makers about issues relating to health care and the role of community health centers. The IPCA also provides training and technical assistance to Idaho’s community health centers in the areas of community development, quality improvement, workforce development and health center operations.

Terry Reilly Health Services is a community health center dedicated to providing affordable, comprehensive health care to everyone to improve health and quality of life. Primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services are provided at locations throughout the Treasure Valley.    

The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations.