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RX for Health Provides Eastern CT Families with Fresh Produce at No Cost

April 14, 2023

As the weather warms and farms and gardens are planted, the opportunities to eat healthier grow too – thanks to Hartford HealthCare’s Rx for Health program.

The program, run by Backus and Windham hospitals’ community health teams, allows doctors to write prescriptions – but for farmer’s markets instead of pharmacies.

They partner with eastern Connecticut social service organizations to ensure that local families can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Rx for Health program began in Norwich in 2010 and expanded to Windham in 2021. The program provides vouchers to low income people for free fresh fruits and vegetables.

The vouchers are redeemable at area farmers markets and grocery stores. Priority is given to those with children who are currently obese or malnourished, or at risk for either.

Participants are also provided recipes for the different produce available at the markets as well as nutrition handouts to address common nutrition struggles and concerns. Special themed events are planned this season and individual nutrition counseling is available as needed and by request.

“As a program, Rx for Health helps people obtain the fresh fruit and vegetables recommended to stay healthy,” says Shannon Haynes, a registered dietician at Backus Hospital who oversees the program for the region. “The program enables families to try produce that they would not have been able and/or willing to purchase.”

The Backus Hospital Rx for Health program vouchers are given out by HHC community partners:

  • United Family Community Services (UCFS)
  • Select Norwich primary care providers and pediatricians
  • St. Vincent de Paul Place food pantry

The Windham Hospital Rx for Health program vouchers are given out by HHC community partners:

  • Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic
  • Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic
  • Windham Head Start

Vouchers are redeemable at:

  • ShopRite
  • A&S Asian market
  • Norwich Farmers Market
  • Backus Hospital Farm Stand
  • Willimantic Farmers Market
  • Windham Hospital Farm Stand
  • Willimantic Food Co-op
  • Bob’s Windham IGA

“Being able to bring together these organizations to improve the health of the community is what we are all about,” says Joseph Zuzel, director of Hartford HealthCare’s Community Health for eastern Connecticut.

If you are interested in receiving vouchers you can visit one of the social service agencies participating in the program. Voucher availability is limited and based on need.

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