MISSOULA, MT- The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) receives $500K from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to invest in The Montana Produce Prescription Collaborative (MTPRx); a new statewide nutrition incentive program that works with healthcare organizations to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to Montanans experiencing food insecurity and diet related health conditions.
Produce Prescription programs serve patients that are referred by their healthcare provider to receive free fresh fruits and vegetables from local grocery stores, farmers markets, and food banks within their communities. The goal is to increase access to fresh, healthy food to patients diagnosed with diet-related health conditions and improve health markers such as blood glucose and cholesterol levels. MTPRx is a collaboration of individual Produce Prescription projects across Montanawho have partnered to mainstream a “food as medicine” movement to better meet the needs of Montana communities through increased access to local, healthy food.
CFAC will receive approximately $500K over a three-year period to distribute across seven PPR programs within the statewide MTPRx Collaborative.Funding is given through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Produce Prescription (GusNIP PPR) grant. CFAC has also been awarded 1.25 million through the GusNIP program for the Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program. This is the first-year funding has been awarded to expand the efforts of CFAC’s new MTPRx program.
“We are thrilled to incorporate MTPRx into our Food Access Program as it provides an innovative approach to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables outside of SNAP. The program is driven by the knowledge and passion of our healthcare partners, and it has been an honor to host and support the MTPRx Collaborative and work to improve diet-related health outcomes across Montana.” Bridget McDonald, CFAC Produce Prescription Coordinator
In January 2022, CFAC formed the Montana Produce Prescription Collaborative (MTPRx), which includes partnerships with healthcare providers and non-profit organizations and reaches over 200 participants across 14 counties. The collaborative includes Bar1Wellness, CSKT Health, FAST Blackfeet Food Pharmacy, Fort Peck Community College Wellness Center, Livingston Food Resource Center Food Pharmacy, Land to Hand’s Food Rx, Montana No Kid Hungry, Montana State University Extension, MSU Extension Nutrition Education, Providence Montana Prescription Produce Program, St. Peters Health Food Pharmacy, One Health.
The goal of the MTPRx Collaborative is to better understand the impact of Produce Prescription Programs across the state for patients diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. Along with identifying collaborative funding opportunities, the group focuses on formalizing new relationships, identifying synergies and efficiencies across programs through shared resources, and support PPR best practices within individual communities.
“In MSU Extension’s recent statewide needs assessment, Montanans express a need for affordable, nutritious, and local foods. Through evaluation of services and participant outcomes, the MTPRx collaborative hopes to build sustainable models for food prescription programs locally as well as for other rural serving communities across the state” shares Brianna Routh Food and Family Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor with Montana State University.
The group originated when initial conversations with partners highlighted the need for increased incentives and capacity to better support participants. The group identified USDA GusNIP funding as a solution to meet these needs. Experience administering the GusNIP funded statewide Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) Nutrition Incentive program and statewide connections naturally led CFAC to take the lead.
“Providence Montana’s Prescription Produce Program is pleased to be part of a statewide effort to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to those we serve who have diet-related health risks or conditions or other challenges in accessing nutritious foods.” Merry Hutton, Senior Director Community Health Investment Providence
In addition to the GusNIP funding, CFAC has received USDA funding in partnership with FAST (Food Access and Sustainability Team) Blackfeet to strengthen a partnership focused on developing equitable, culturally appropriate Produce Prescription practices within the MTPRx Collaborative. FAST Blackfeet has operated a Food Pharmacy program on the Blackfeet Reservation and currently serves 37 participants and their families. While the Food Pharmacy program directly reaches the Blackfeet Reservation, their program model and expertise will help to inform the direction of the entire MTPRx collaborative.
“The MTPRx Collaborative will be invaluable to FAST Blackfeet’s Food Pharmacy Program because it provides an avenue to connect with similar programs across the state,” says Mackenzie Sachs, FAST’s Registered Dietitian and Program Coordinator. “The Collaborative will minimize the isolation that rural community organizations face. There has been increased demand for nutrition and produce prescription services in the Blackfeet Nation during the pandemic, support from the MTPRx Collaborative will help FAST identify how to best meet these needs.” Mackenzie Sachs, FAST Food Pharmacy Program Coordinator / Registered Dietitian
These funding sources will support the MTPRx program through 2025. For more information about MTPRx, program locations, how it works and more, please visit the official MTPRx web page by clicking here! Questions? E-mail Bridget McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.