SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Thanks to a $455,000 grant, Savannah families will soon have help getting the proper nutrition they need.
Forsyth Farmers’ Market is using the US Department of Agriculture’s grant to start a “produce prescription program” in 2020 called 912 Food Farmacy.
Its mission is to improve the health of lower-income families through nutrition education, increased access to fresh and local foods and financial incentives for purchasing healthy food items.
Twenty percent of Savannah residents live in a low food access area — commonly known as a food desert. Savannah is one of only eight cities across the country to receive this funding.
“The city itself will never move forward without all of our citizens being at our best,” Jeb Bush, the executive director at Forsyth Farmers’ Market said.
“And one thing that we can do is try to make sure that fresh produce is financially and physically accessible at all times.”
Forsyth Farmers’ Market is partnering with four local health clinics to serve low-income individuals through the Food Farmacy, including Memorial Health Children’s Hospital, Chatham County Health Department, St. Joseph’s/Candler’s St. Mary’s Health Center, and J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center.
Each of the four clinics will help 50 to 70 participants who are at risk for diet-related diseases. Once a month, participants will get a health check-in, attend a class on healthy living, and take part in a cooking demo.
“Instead of leaving with just a prescription for medicine, they’re leaving with a prescription for food,” Brittany Lightsey, the Children’s Wellness Coordinator at Memorial Health said.
“Which again is just one of those barriers we haven’t been able to cross in the healthcare community, specifically here in Savannah,” she added. “So we are so excited, specifically at the children’s hospital, we can take that to our kids.”
At the end of the class, they will receive “prescriptions,” which are vouchers for fresh, local produce redeemable at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.
There, residents can also visit the Farm Truck 912, a mobile produce market further promotes the market’s goal of encouraging a local, healthy diet.
Forsyth Farmers’ Market estimates that the new program will put $265,200 worth of healthy food incentives into the hands of participants and will benefit 34 different farmers through increased sales.