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PhytoRx Launches

On July 14, the first patient at HealthReach Community Clinic in Mooresville, NC was handed a PhytoRx, a prescription for fruits and vegetables that contain specific health-promoting compounds. The prescription lasts for 3 months and will be filled at Feed NC, a food distribution center in Mooresville. In addition, the patient will receive coaching on health eating habits based on the Med Instead of Meds curriculum, and food preparation tips from Iredell County Extension agent and registered dietitian, Andrea Sherrill. The goal is that when the patient returns to HealthReach for a followup appointment that their health outcomes will have improved, by making shifts in their diet.

Eating more fruits and vegetables will improve a person’s health, but access to healthcare, food and knowledge can be a barrier to parts of our population. This inaugural offering of PhytoRx was envisioned by Cheri Granillo, part-time family nurse practitioner at HealthReach and Extension associate at Plants for Human Health Institute. Her short term goals are to 1) demonstrate improved health by prescribed fruit and vegetable consumption, 2) eliminate food access issues that may inhibit participation, 3) equip participants with knowledge and tools to make meaningful changes in their food choices and preparation habits. In the long term, Granillo hopes to 1) refocus how providers approach disease prevention and treatment and 2) dismantle preconceived notions of patients that healthy choices are too expensive, not filling or flavorful and difficult to prepare

HealthReach was awarded a grant by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC to fund the PhytoRx program. Providers at HealthReach will use the PhytoRx prescription as part of an integrative treatment plan for 30 patients. All patients will consent to pre- and post-participation bloodwork. Patients will fill their PhytoRx weekly at Feed NC, receiving a box of free produce, recipes and a helpful kitchen tool to keep them on track. Andrea Sherrill had hoped to offer weekly classes to not only share cooking tips and provide nutrition education, but also provide a community experience where participants could offer support to each other and share their success or challenges. Due to gathering restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these classes will be offered through video messages from Sherrill.

Patients at HealthReach Community Clinic may receive a prescription for fruits and vegetables that will look like this. The provider will check the appropriate boxes for the patient and provide additional guidance for the best health outcome.