VeggieRx is a cooperative produce prescription program developed by the Garden, Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC), and the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion (CPHP) to help patients with diet-related diseases who are also food insecure. Located in Chicago's Lawndale, Austin, and Belmont Cragin neighborhoods, VeggieRx is used as an equity market channel for Windy City Harvest trainees and beginner farmers. Local Produce boxes are prescribed by health center partner providers along with weekly nutrition education and cooking lessons from Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion.
- Increase vegetable consumption for SNAP/LINK enrolled individuals with diet-related illnesses
- Eliminate or reduce barriers around fruit and vegetable consumption
- Build awareness about farmers’ markets
- Improve health outcomes for all participants
- Serve as an equity market channel for beginner farmers
“VeggieRx is a program that allows us to write prescriptions for food for our patients. In North Lawndale, for instance, the rate of diabetes is 50 percent higher than the national average; 41 percent of our residents have high blood pressure. Rather than address their medical problems with a pill, we are introducing lifestyle changes to impact health. Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are directly related to what we eat.” – Dr. Wayne Detmer, chief clinical officer, operations, at (LCHC)
We are thankful for the collaborators that helped make VeggieRx possible.
VeggieRx has grown tremendously since its start in 2016. The program now has distribution sites across the west side of Chicago, Austin, and Belmont Cragin. In 2022, more than 17,000 VeggieRx bags were distributed to more than 2,000 participants.
“Since eating more fruits and vegetables I have lost weight and my appetite towards vegetables has changed. I used to eat a lot of sweets, and I’ve learned how to swap out cookies and cakes for apples and oranges. It's much healthier. It helps to have these around the house otherwise I would default to cookies and cakes.” –VeggieRx Survey Participant
“With VeggieRx I was able to get off the pre-diabetes medicine, which wasn’t overnight but happened over time. I have also learned how to cook vegetables in new ways. Videos were really helpful during the pandemic. I have lost weight too." –VeggieRx Survey Participant
What's Included in a Package
VeggieRx participant survey results stated that price was the number one barrier preventing access to fresh fruits and vegetables. More than 90 percent of participants said they eat more than half their VeggieRx produce weekly.
Example box/bag contents:
- 1 bundle of kale
- 1 bundle of collards
- 1 bundle of beets
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 squash
- 2 onions
Visit & Contact VeggieRx
To find out if you are eligible for the program email Iririan Francisco, VeggieRx Coordinator, or call (224) 531-7469.