A new study will provide 125 low-income residents in Forsyth County with weekly boxes of fresh produce for one year.
The Fresh Food Prescription Study, funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will seek to measure the effects of a “food-first approach” in dealing with such health issues as diabetes and high blood pressure.
YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is recipient of the grant money. The study in Forsyth will be led by Rachel Zimmer of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, along with the Winston Lake YMCA & REACH Center and the Produce Box, which will supply the fresh produce.
In addition to the produce, participants also will receive nutritional coaching, health education and emotional support.
“This study has exciting potential to show the health benefits a food prescription program can provide,” said Rachel Zimmer, a certified nurse practitioner and the founder and director of Wake Forest Baptist’s mobile clinic program. “Lack of access to healthy food is a major barrier to better health that we need to address as a community.”
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Eligible participants are those who are either enrolled in or eligible for the Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits and who are managing “a metabolic condition such as obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes.”
“The Winston Lake Family YMCA & REACH Center is excited to partner in the Fresh Food Prescription Study,” said Diane Shenberger, Winston Lake’s dietitian and community integrated health outreach coordinator. “This is a great opportunity to improve our community’s health and aligns perfectly with the YMCA mission to help all individuals reach their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.”
Zimmer had led a similar program that ended in 2021, and whose data was used in the grant proposal and design of the new study.
In addition to the study in Forsyth, additional studies are being held across North Carolina, including those at five clinics in Eastern North Carolina that are working in conjunction with Eastern Carolina University.
To learn more or volunteer to be a participant in the Fresh Food Prescription Study, call Wake Forest Baptist at 336-713-8539, Option 5, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.