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The New York Times reports that “doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts have begun advising patients to eat ‘prescription produce’ from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. Now they will give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals.”

According to the story, “Massachusetts was one of the first states to promote these markets as hubs of preventive health. In the 1980s, for example, the state began issuing coupons for farmers’ markets to low-income women who were pregnant or breast-feeding or for young children at risk for malnourishment. Thirty-six states now have such farmers’ market nutrition programs aimed at women and young children ... Although obesity is a complex problem unlikely to be solved just by eating more vegetables, supporters of the veggie voucher program hope that physician intervention will spur young people to adopt the kind of behavioral changes that can help forestall lifelong obesity.”

The Times notes that “the pilot project plans to enroll up to 50 families of four at three health centers in Massachusetts that already have specialized children’s programs called healthy weight clinics,” and will run “until the end of the farmers’ market season in late fall.”
KC's View:
The question is what happens to these folks after the farmers’ markets close down to the winter. Do their improved eating habits persist? Or do they fall back into old habits?

Maybe this is a place where supermarkets can step in and play a role. After all, a lot of stores are working to improve the connection between food and health, and this seems like a clear way to do it.