NY pharmacists ‘prescribing’ produce to lower blood pressure

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has expanded its Health Bucks program to allow pharmacists to “prescribe” produce to low-income residents with high blood pressure.

One in four adults in New York City has hypertension and one in five use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), CBS affiliate WLNS reported Oct. 4. Health Bucks—$2 coupons that can be used across 142 farmer’s markets in the city—can be used to purchase otherwise pricey produce that can help keep people’s blood pressure in check.

According to WLNS, pharmacists in the city can now issue up to $30 a month in Health Bucks to any SNAP recipients who go to their pharmacy to fill a prescription for blood pressure medication. Local pharmacy staff have said patients are reporting eating more fruits and vegetables than before the 2017 launch of the Pharmacy to Farm Prescription program.

WLNS reported more than 1,000 low-income residents are enrolled in the program and more than $85,000 in Health Bucks have been distributed to date.

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