Fruits/Veggies Rx: NAU faculty, staff eligible for bags of free produce

Vegetables

Aug. 23, 2019

Get your fruits and vegetables here!

Faculty and staff at Northern Arizona University can soon be “prescribed” a healthier diet and fill their prescription with bags of free groceries.

According to the 2018 wellness survey conducted as part of the Healthy U program, though NAU employees ranked strong in wellness, they believed they should be eating more fruits and vegetables. In an effort to help, NAU’s Employee Assistance and Wellness (EAW) is partnering with Campus Health Services, Student Health Promotion and Campus Dining to implement a produce prescription program called Fruits/Veggies Rx.

“Students have been taking advantage of this program for a couple of years,” said Heather Nash, director of EAW. “After seeing the survey results, we thought extending this program to faculty and staff would be a great way to elevate their concerns of not getting enough nutrition in their diets.”

The program works like this: If an employee feels they are not getting enough produce in their diets, they can visit a provider, physician, nurse or counselor to get a “prescription” of increasing their fruit and veggie intake. Then, the employee can take that prescription to the EAW office, room 2601 in the Health and Learning Center, to pick up a voucher for one free bag of fruits and vegetables per week, for six weeks, redeemable at the Open-Air Market on NAU’s pedway starting in September.

“Once they’ve picked up the voucher, they can swing by the EAW table at the market and we’ll talk about nutrition, provide some fun recipes and preparation ideas, then send them on their way with a bag of produce.”

Nash said a lot of the produce provided is locally sourced and introduces people to different varieties of fruits and vegetables that they may have otherwise not tried.

“We wanted to provide a jumping-off point for people to access fruits and vegetables, learn how easy it is to prepare them and just how tasty they can be. Our hope is that once they realize how easy it is, more produce can be incorporated into their diets to create a healthier lifestyle.”

Those who do not qualify for the prescription can use dining dollars, cash or credit card to purchase produce and other goods at the Open-Air Market, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday in September and October.

More information, including other EAW offerings, can be found online.