A Prescription for Fruits and Vegetables
We all know fresh fruits and vegetables are good for us, and it’s especially important for kids. That’s why this summer, some doctors are writing a prescription for fruits and vegetables.
At the Park Nicollet Brookdale clinic, 3-year-old Petra Pa is having her hearing tested as part of an annual child wellness exam.
However, when pediatrician Emily Yonke arrives, the doctor brings gifts: a children’s book about healthy eating for Petra and a $10 gift card for Petra’s mother that’s redeemable for produce at Cub Foods.
“You can use that [$10 gift card] to get some fresh fruits and veggies,” says Dr. Emily Yonke to Petra’s mother, Choua Xiong.
During the month of July, a $10 prescription to buy fruits and vegetables at Cub is part of any child wellness exam at all 55 clinic locations of Park Nicollet and Health Partners in the Twin Cities and St. Croix Valley.
The Power of a Prescription for Fruits and Vegetables
The prescription for fruits and vegetables program started several years ago as a way to boost healthy eating among kids.
“There was some data that came out several years ago from a CDC study that showed that 90 percent of kids weren’t getting enough vegetables, 60 percent weren’t getting enough fruits,” says Dr. Nathan Chomilo, a pediatrician at Park Nicollet Brookdale.
The program is aimed to get kids and parents excited about trying more fruits and vegetables in their daily diets.
“Instead of going to your doctor and just hearing the same thing, ‘you need to eat more healthy.’ Well, what does that mean, and what are some tangible ways, some small steps we can take,” says Chomilo. “I often talk about your goal is to get five servings of fruits and veggies a day.”
For 3-year-old Petra Pa, strawberries are her favorite, but finding vegetables she likes is a challenge.
“She’s a very picky eater, she only eats certain things,” says her mother, Choua Xiong. “There’s only certain foods that she’ll eat, so I just have to get her more exposed to the vegetables.”
In addition to getting the $10 coupon for produce, families also get a booklet that includes recipes and clever ways to get fruits and vegetables into the daily diet.
“It’s always good to have different choices of how to cook them [vegetables] for the kids,” says Xiong.
Over the past several years of the program, more than 40,000 prescriptions for fruits and vegetables have been given to families.