Produce Prescription Program Piloted at GPS Farmers Market - U of I Extension

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Produce Prescription Program Piloted at GPS Farmers Market

This article was originally published on September 29, 2017 and expired on November 30, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Produce Prescription Program Piloted at GPS Farmers Market

Machesney Park, IL What do a prescription pad, a nutrition class, and a farmers market have in common?  A pilot project that rewards Crusader Clinic participants with vouchers to purchase fresh produce after attending weekly nutrition classes.  Advising adults to eat more fruits and vegetables makes sense for better health but is a hard sell for families with limited incomes. The Produce Prescription Program literally provided the carrot to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

The four-week pilot project was a collaboration between GPS Farmers Market, Crusader Clinic/Loves Park and University of Illinois Extension/SNAP Education. The idea was funded through a grant intended to expand SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) at GPS Farmers Market of Machesney Park.  Their market is one of five markets in the Rockford area that accepts SNAP benefits. 

GPS Farmers Market used their grant money to print produce prescription pads, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for cooking class, and hand out weekly vouchers to be used at the market. Crusader Clinic dietitian Jennifer Atterbury gave produce prescriptions to adult patients who could benefit from eating more fresh produce. The “prescription” advised patients to eat more fruit and vegetables and invited them to a weekly nutrition class.

Carol Erickson, SNAP-Ed Educator for University of Illinois Extension coordinated the project and facilitated the nutrition classes at GPS Faith Community.  Participants were introduced to seasonal produce and they learned how to prepare them.  Weekly recipes featured a variety of late summer produce like zucchini, summer squash, apples, eggplant, spaghetti and butternut squash.  After each class, participants received a voucher for $5 to be redeemed at the GPS Farmers Market.

One of the successes of the class was when participants would come to class the next week and show pictures of the recipes they had made at home using produce from the farmers market. “This is the most I have ever cooked vegetables,” claimed one participant. “I was surprised how much I liked eggplant and butternut squash. I never bought them because I didn’t know how to cook them.”

For more information about the Produce Prescription Program, please contact Carol Erickson at University of Illinois Extension, 779-423-0982 or

Source: Carol Erickson, Visiting Extension Educator, SNAP-Ed (Rockford),

Pull date: November 30, 2017