Ariane Reister is a health educator for Washtenaw County Public health and program coordinator for Prescription for Health, (established in 2008) to help residents eat better and improve their health by accessing farmers markets’ fresh fruits and vegetables for free. This organization is one of the of the first fruit and vegetable prescription programs in the nation, in which participants are given tokens to use for produce. The program has been a great success helping hundreds of people, and the positive results for participants include: weight loss, increased physical activity, lower blood pressure, and improved blood sugar levels.
Michigan farmers markets rank near the top
Farmers markets can be found in every state, but Michigan is the second most diverse state in terms of available agricultural products (second only to California). “We’re very lucky here,” said Reister. With such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available, shopping at the local farmers markets is a great way to eat during peak harvest season.
Tips on getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
With the increasing costs of food and busy schedules, eating healthy can be a challenge, but there are many positive benefits from eating a balanced, healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables play a huge role, but how do we incorporate more into our diets?
Reister has some great tips: “Combinations are a great way to sneak vegetables into your food. When you make pasta, try adding some cut up vegetables. With omelets, it’s easy to add some sliced up vegetables.”
“Try adding fruit or berries to your oatmeal or cereal in the morning. Making smoothies with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is another great option,” said Reister.
What’s the right serving size?
“When eating a meal, half your plate should be fruits and vegetables,” said Reister.
Community support and a healthier Washtenaw County:
There are many pieces that come together to make the market a wonderful place to shop. “We have so many unique farmers in Washtenaw County that bring a great variety of products to the markets. It’s a fun atmosphere, and the vendors are amazing,” said Reister. Prescription for Health has been funded through a variety of sources, including The Kresge Foundation, and currently, is primarily funded by Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
How to get enrolled for Prescription for Health?
Ypsilanti, Chelsea, and Milan are the three market areas that make up Prescription for Health. “Talk with one of our participating clinics or agencies, and see if you’re a good fit for the program. If you’re at risk for a chronic disease, and willing to use the full benefit of the program, you may qualify,” said Reister. There’s also health education and support to help encourage participants to embrace healthy eating and more active lifestyles.
For more information on how to get enrolled for Prescription for Health,