When a patient visits the Toppenish Medical-Dental Clinic for a checkup, medical assistants check the patient’s weight. Then their blood pressure. And their heartbeat.
And then they ask the patient two important questions.
One: within the past 12 months, were they worried whether their food would run out before they got money to buy more?
And two: within the past 12 months, did they run out of food too fast and did they not have the money to buy more?
Many times, the answer is ‘yes.’
At the Toppenish clinic, registered dietitian nutritionist Lissette Llamas said many patients tell the medical assistant they don’t have enough food. That’s when the assistant sends them to Llamas or a community health worker. After a discussion about their situation, patients may leave the clinic with a fruit and vegetable prescription, otherwise known as a voucher. They can redeem the paper voucher just like cash at specific places in the community.
“I’ve seen it be a huge help,” Llamas said. “Families love the program and they get excited to come back and tell me about it. I ask them what they purchased, what they prepared with the food, and a lot of the families try new fruits and vegetables because of it. We’ve even seen some of them improve their lab results after eating more fruits and vegetables.”
Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.