In the Community
October 11, 2011
Kaiser Permanente and Wholesome Wave Collaborate to Make Farmers Markets More Accessible to Underserved Communities
Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to fresh, locally grown food, announced Tuesday that it is expanding its incentive programs, thanks to support from Kaiser Permanente, in as many as 30 farmers markets across the country.
With funding from a $1.2 million grant from Kaiser Permanente, Wholesome Wave is expanding one of its signature incentive programs—the Double Value Coupon Program—in Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and Northern and Southern California. The DVCP uses private donations and grant funding to double the value of federal food assistance benefits when spent at farmers markets.
“It’s a really great partnership because we have shared values and shared aspirations,” said Loel Solomon, Ph.D., vice president for Community Health, Kaiser Permanente. “Like Wholesome Wave, Kaiser Permanente believes that healthy, sustainably farmed food should be affordable and available to everybody.”
Solomon and Wholesome Wave’s president and CEO, Michel Nischan, recently spoke about how the DVCP has already been proven to be effective in underserved communities by making healthy produce more affordable and accessible to low-income populations, while at the same time, supporting local economies.
The grant also will enable Wholesome Wave to plan for an expansion of its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, which it calls FVRx. This program seeks to bridge the gap between the clinical environment and the community by creating an incentive for individuals to purchase fresher, locally grown fruits and vegetables. By providing individuals with “prescriptions” for produce that can be redeemed at neighborhood farmers markets, physicians and clinicians hope to bring greater support to those local markets while encouraging healthy eating behaviors among their patients.
Funding for the Wholesome Wave grant is a result of Kaiser Permanente’s employee wellness program, through which Kaiser Permanente contributed $50 for each employee who took a health risk assessment. More than 22,000 Kaiser Permanente employees participated in the program and the funds raised in 2010 are being distributed to Wholesome Wave and the Washington D.C.-based National Assembly for School-Based Health Care.