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Willy Street Co-op Partners on Produce Prescriptions

Starting this week, some residents of Madison, Wis., will be eligible for a groundbreaking program that allows doctors to prescribe organic fruits and vegetables.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or FVRx, is focused at the neighborhood level. It comes from the financial support of Wholesome Wave, and from a partnership between Willy Street Co-op North, and UW Health Northeast Family Medical, which are within a block of each other.

Wholesome Wave is a national group that is dedicated to “affordable, healthy, local food for all.” Its mission is to empower underserved consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to fresh, local food. It funded the pilot with a $23,000 grant to the city of Madison.

“I’m extremely pleased that the city of Madison was awarded a Wholesome Wave grant to implement a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “By collaborating with partners at Public Health Madison and Dane County, Willy Street Co-op, Second Harvest Foodbank, and UW Health Northeast Family Medical Clinic, the city continues to illustrate how government and the community can work hand-in-hand to increase the well-being and health of all of our residents.”

A patient can qualify for aid to help purchase produce and join the co-op if their doctor deems that they don't food security, or reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

To qualify for the aid, a patient has to answer yes to one of two questions: In the last year, have you worried about having enough food until you could buy more, or have you actually run out of food before you could buy more?

Program Also Boosts Co-op Membership

The aid comes in the form of a packet that includes a coupon to become a co-op owner, and 60 $2 coupons that can be used in the produce department until the end of the year.  Participants can also join a program at the co-op that offers an additional 10 percent off groceries, and a free coupon to attend one of the co-op classes, which would normally charge a fee.

FVRx coupons can be used in conjunction with other co-op sales and coupons, including those redeemed via another new co-op program, known as Double Dollars, or any time a customer shops at any of the co-op’s three locations.

“The co-op is invested in continuing to expand the ways in which we can help address food security in Dane County,” said Kirsten Moore, director of cooperative services. “In addition to our established Access Discount Program, we are excited to work with our public and private partners to test new programs like Double Dollars and FVRx.”

Moore added that the data collected from the pilot will help the co-op determine how to continue and fund these type of programs for the future. “We already have some great ideas to share in the next few months, and we look forward to launching new initiatives to expand these offerings,” she noted.

Founded in 1974, Willy Street Co-op, with more than 34,000 owners and three retail locations,is  the Madison area’s largest consumer-owned neighborhood grocer offering organic, locally produced and conventional foods. 

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