For Immediate Release
December 6, 2017

CONTACT:  Marco Leon, or 520.761.2128

OR Susan Lamontagne, or 631.899.4780

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

Mariposa Community Health Center launches “Comer Bien (Eat Well) Initiative” made possible with $125,000 grant from RCHN Community Health Foundation

NEW YORK AND NOGALES, AZ – With diabetes on the rise, Mariposa Community Health Center (Mariposa) has grappled with how to support healthy eating in their low-income, Mexican-American community, where food insecurity is prevalent, and diets don’t often include fresh foods. Earlier interventions, like offering food vouchers for people who completed nutrition classes, weren’t enough. So Mariposa developed a new approach to tackle poor diets.

Working with Nogales Community Development, Nogales Community Food Bank, Nogales Mercado Farmer’s Market, Garrett’s IGA Supermarket, and Villa’s Market, Mariposa CHC is launching the “Comer Bien (Eat Well) Initiative,” made possible by a $125,000 grant from the RCHN Community Health Foundation.

“A diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is the best medicine to control diabetes, which is a growing concern in the Latino community,” said Mariposa CHC Senior Director of Community Health Services Patty Molina. “This grant will help us test a new strategy to improve the health of our diabetic patients that will include customized, diabetes-tailored food boxes available at our Nogales Community Food Bank and redemption of FVRx prescriptions at local family-owned grocery stores and our local Farmer’s Market as part of a range of services.”

In addition to making healthy foods available through FVRx, the fruits and vegetable prescription program, Comer Bien will provide home assessments by community health workers, cooking classes at a downtown commercial kitchen, care management, and transportation to take patients to participating grocery stores. An existing partnership with the Farmer’s Market, established a few years ago by the health center and in conjunction with the local community development organization, will be expanded. The goal is to improve blood sugar control for people with uncontrolled diabetes, and implement strategies to involve the whole family to help patients to stick with the program.

“The founders of the health center movement recognized that good, nutritious food was essential to good health. That’s what was behind the farm co-op Drs. Jack Geiger and John Hatch started in the Mississippi Delta more than 50 years ago, and the food prescriptions Dr. Geiger wrote,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “Mariposa Community Health Center’s Comer Bien program builds on that model, and we are pleased to support it as a relevant approach that can improve care for high-risk communities today.”

Mariposa 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 abuse 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 Idaho Primary Care Association in Boise, ID; 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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Mariposa Community Health Center was founded in 1980 to serve a predominantly rural, Latino community at the U.S.-Mexico border. The major provider of medical, dental and community health services in Santa Cruz County, Mariposa serves nearly 23,000 patients at 4 sites. For more visit  

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. For more visit