Windy City Harvest VeggieRx
Food As Medicine
VeggieRx is a cooperative 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 neighborhood, the Farm On Ogden is the distribution center where VeggieRx packages, grown and packed by Windy City Harvest trainees, are prescribed by LCHC providers to patients along with weekly nutrition education and cooking lessons from CPHP.
“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)
VeggieRx has grown tremendously since its start in 2016. The program now has distribution sites across the west side of Chicago, Austin, Maywood, and Belmont Cragin. In 2020, over 7000 VeggieRx bags were distributed to more than 900 participants.
We are thankful for the collaborators that helped make VeggieRx possible. If you are interested in becoming a healthcare partner, please contact Eliza Fournier.
“I appreciate the box and the program. The box helps me to provide good nutrition to my kids and myself and I'm thankful because it's expensive to eat healthy. I can’t afford to eat healthy as often as I’d like because of the prices and availability in my neighborhood. The program gives me valuable information that I can understand and incorporate in meals at home for my family.” –VeggieRx Survey Participant
"This program is fantastic. I'm eating healthier because of demos, recipes and bags of vegetables and fruits. I have learned about veggies I wouldn't buy but now I eat them and enjoy them. i am much healthier thanks to veggierx and all they do." –VeggieRx 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, so coupons are included in VeggieRx packages for free produce at Windy City Harvest farmers' market. Over 90 percent of participants said they eat more than half their VeggieRx produce weekly.
Example box/bag contents, $15 value:
- 1 bundle of kale
- 1 bundle of collards
- 1 bundle of beets
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 squash
- 2 onions