With the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, it became clear that as a nation, we expect our cities to guarantee clean water to all people. When that doesn’t happen, we are rightfully indignant, yet it wasn’t always that way. It was only by the turn of the century, when the connection was made between cholera and clean water, that people started to view access to clean water as a public health issue.
We believe that we’re in that “cholera moment” now with food; the connections have been made between the “unclean” food that gets piped into communities of color, and the diet-related chronic illnesses that are plaguing these communities at astonishing rates.
Ward 8 has the highest rates of food-related chronic disease in the Washington, DC area, and only one grocery store for 85,000 people. In a community that battles alarming rates of violence, illiteracy, unemployment, and poverty, DC Greens, Giant Foods, AmeriHealth Caritas DC and DC Health have partnered to create the DC Produce Rx Program to positively impact the health outcomes of Ward 8 residents.
The program equips doctors with the tools to write prescriptions for fresh produce for low-income patients experiencing one of three chronic conditions—diabetes, prediabetes or hypertension—then combines food intervention with nutrition education to give ward residents confidence in making healthier food choices for themselves and their families.