Produce Rx Programs Expand Healthy Food Access at Giant Food

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Boston-based nonprofit organization About Fresh, which is committed to expanding access to high-quality fresh food, has teamed with fellow nonprofit DC Greens and Washington, D.C.-area Giant Food locations to offer About Fresh’s Fresh Connect program in the region. Through the proprietary program, shoppers receiving Medicaid can now use debit cards to purchase fresh food “prescribed” by health care providers at the participating Giant Food stores. 

According to About Fresh, “As a food care partnership, this represents a significant step in the effort to combine health care resources with Fresh Connect’s groundbreaking technology and leading retail partners to significantly advance health equity and to transform the way we fund efforts to eradicate food insecurity and improve public health.”

For the past eight years, DC Greens has administered DC’s Produce Prescription program for adults. This past September, the organization launched the Children & Families Produce Prescription (CFPRx) pilot, which will provide Fresh Connect cards to more easily enable participating families to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at their local stores. The CFPRx program is financially supported by the District’s Department of Healthcare Finance, the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, United Healthcare, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. 

“DC Greens is excited to partner with About Fresh to launch our Children and Families Produce Rx program, and continue to grow Produce Rx to provide a more accessible, user-friendly and equitable program to our participants throughout D.C.,” said Luisa Furstenberg-Beckman, Produce Prescription program manager at DC Greens. “From the Capital Area Food Bank’s ‘2022 Hunger Report,’ we know that as many as one in three residents in the greater Washington area have struggled with food insecurity at some point in the past year. The Produce Prescription program gives providers a resource for their patients who may be struggling with diabetes and/or hypertension. Fresh Connect makes accessing nutritious food more accessible.”

The move into D.C. represents a significant expansion for About Fresh and comes in the wake of the White House Conference on Hunger and Nutrition, which the nonprofit attended. Earlier this year, Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop, the first major retailer to join forces with About Fresh, as well as a sister banner to Giant Food, expanded the Fresh Connect program to more than 400 stores throughout New England. Through the partnership, nearly 90% of cardholders have made a purchase at Stop & Shop. 

“As a food retailer, we recognize the important role we play in improving access to healthy and affordable food,” said Lisa Coleman, director of healthy living at Giant Food. “Our partnership with About Fresh allows Giant to expand produce prescriptions and other nutrition incentive solutions to community partners who are also focused on health. Fresh Connect participants can maximize their benefits by accessing free classes, consultations and additional resources offered by Giant’s Healthy Living Team.” 

“Households struggling with food insecurity can’t afford the foods that are essential for health, stability and cultural celebration,” noted About Fresh co-founder and CEO Josh Trautwein. “As the first to create a retailer-agnostic, frictionless point-of-sale payment solution for food prescriptions, About Fresh has the opportunity to make a significant impact for millions of people, and [it’s a] tremendous extension of our mission to bring Fresh Connect to D.C. residents. Working in partnership with Giant Food and DC Greens marks a significant expansion of our geographic footprint, meaning we can serve more people and brings us one step closer to our vision of a future where everyone has access to the food they need to be at their best.”

Based in Landover, Md., Giant Food operates 165 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, with approximately 20,000 associates. Included within the 165 stores are 153 full-service pharmacies, over 80 full-service PNC Banks and 27 Starbucks locations. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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