Unity Care NW Announces Expansion of Whatcom Veggie Rx Program

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March 17, 2020
For the past year, Unity Care NW, Bellingham Food Bank, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, PeaceHealth, and Community Health Plan of Washington have partnered with Community Food Co-op to pilot the Whatcom Veggie Rx program. Through this pilot, participating health care providers have sought to improve the health outcomes of a group of patients who are low-income and diabetic with high Hemoglobin A1c levels, a blood sugar measure, who have been identified as nutritionally at-risk. Over the past year, participating patients have received Whatcom Veggie Rx “prescriptions,” monthly $40 vouchers redeemable for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables at Community Food Co-op locations. They have also had the opportunity to work with a dietitian and participate in nutrition, healthy eating, and cooking classes focused on budgeting and meal preparation.
The program has made a significant difference in the lives of participants. Of the 67 participants, 45, or 67 percent, experienced and improvement in their blood sugar level. One patient tells Unity Care that, with $40 a month to buy fruits and vegetables, he started planning plant-based meals. Over the past year, he has been able to stop taking insulin and lost 67 pounds. Because of his increased energy, he has been able to increase the amount of work he can do. Being a piece rate employee, where he gets paid according to his productivity, that means that his paycheck has doubled over the past year. What’s his tip for success? “Don’t try and make the same things. Be creative. Go to recipe websites and just explore what you can do.”
Unity Care NW is pleased to announce that, as of March 1, 2020, the Whatcom Veggie Rx Program has moved from its pilot phase to an expanded program offered by Unity Care NW. The program will grow from about 60 participants who took part in the pilot to a total of 100 patients able to participate. Unity Care NW would like to thank and recognize CVS Health for their $15,000 Community Grant, part of CVS Health’s commitment to building healthier communities, and the
Whatcom Community Foundation for making this development possible. Thanks as well to the many donors from Unity Care NW’s Eat Local Gala last September who contributed to this effort. We could not have made this expanded program a reality without their support. We look forward to seeing more positive health outcomes for our patients.
The mission of Unity Care NW (UCNW) is to increase the years of healthy life in the people and communities we serve. UCNW is a federally-qualified health center with sites in Bellingham and Ferndale. Established in 1982, the non-profit organization provides medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services to over 22,000 Whatcom County residents who consider Unity Care NW their medical home. Services are available for all people regardless of their ability to pay.