International Fresh Produce Association's Mollie Van Lieu Discusses Impact of Produce Prescription Programs



International Fresh Produce Association's Mollie Van Lieu Discusses Impact of Produce Prescription Programs


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UNITED STATES - Long before the first medicines as we know them were created, we had fruits and vegetables. Today’s consumers are becoming more likely to turn to the benefits of fresh produce for some medicinal needs, and prescription programs like ProduceRX are fueling this fire—proving beneficial for both consumers and the produce industry at large.

Mollie Van Lieu, Vice President of Nutrition and Health Policy, International Fresh Produce Association

“With well-designed produce prescriptions, consumers are eating more fruits and vegetables, positively impacting their health and improving produce sales,” explains Mollie Van Lieu, the International Fresh Produce Association’s Vice President of Nutrition and Health. “Despite most Americans knowing the importance of fruits and vegetables, the majority are not consuming them in amounts that will help prevent a diet-related disease. The data is pretty clear: three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese, half of Americans are diabetic or prediabetic, and only 10 percent are following the Dietary Guidelines recommendations on fruit and vegetable consumption.”

For many people, affordability or the perceived affordability of fresh produce is often a barrier. Well-executed produce prescription programs eliminate this barrier by providing funding for fruits and vegetables.

With well-designed produce prescriptions, consumers are eating more fruits and vegetables, positively impacting their health and improving produce sales

These health-focused produce programs grant consumers resources to spend on fruits and vegetables to achieve measurable healthcare outcomes. With eight out of 10 healthcare dollars today spent on preventable chronic diseases, developments like this are a win-win-win for the patient, the industry, and the nation.

“While we want to see action to cover produce prescriptions in federal healthcare systems, a lot of the momentum right now is at the state level,” Mollie shares. “There is a massive opportunity for additional states to adopt produce prescriptions. Industry members should be collaborating with stakeholders in their state to ensure the state Medicaid Director is pursuing this option. If you’re in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, or Washington where waivers exist, figure out how you might be able to be an implementation partner. This will look a little different everywhere, as some produce prescriptions are retail-based, and some are through home delivery or run by a food bank.”

These health-focused produce programs grant consumers resources to spend on fruits and vegetables to achieve measurable healthcare outcomes

As Mollie goes on to note, taking advantage of this development in fresh produce takes a committed yet patient approach.

“In some ways, we need to hurry to take advantage of this moment while we have momentum, but we also need patience as we are still in the early stages,” she says. “While it’s a simple concept, the execution is complex because we’re dealing with a healthcare system that has not dealt with the food system before—and that impacts everything from research and evaluation techniques to billing codes, technology delivery models, and more. It’s important that the industry stays part of the conversation and execution. If we don’t fill that role, someone else will.”

ANUK will continue to dive into the impact of programs like this, so stay tuned for more updates.



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International Fresh Produce Association

The International Fresh Produce Association is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire…