“Prevention Produce”: Integrating Medical Student Mentorship into a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program for At-Risk Patients

Jane Marie Forbes, Cameron Russell Forbes, Erik Lehman, Daniel R. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Introduction: Fruit and vegetable prescription (FVRx) programs provide increased access to produce to food-insecure, at-risk populations, yet many lack the educational and social components to support long-term disease prevention. Objectives: To address these barriers, students at Penn State College of Medicine designed “Prevention Produce”—a modified FVRx program that integrated a community-based, month-long educational curriculum—and undertook preliminary evaluation. Methods: Nine families deemed by clinicians as at risk of chronic disease and food insecurity received weekly $40 “prescriptions” for produce at partnering farmers markets. Participants were paired with medical student mentors who delivered weekly nutrition education modules and assisted in produce shopping. Preprogram and postprogram surveys were administered, categorizing perceptions and practices of healthy eating. All participants were interviewed by phone 3 years later to assess long-term impact. Medical students provided written reflections via online survey. Results: Postprogram fruit and vegetable consumption increased, and more patients expressed efforts to include produce in every meal. More participants strongly agreed that fruits and vegetables prevented chronic diseases. In reflective interviews, participants praised the program’s ease of use, mentor-patient relationship, and increased access to produce. Student mentors expressed gratitude for one-on-one interaction and felt empowered to learn and deliver nutrition education. Conclusion: Integration of an FVRx program with education, mentorship, and community-based focus may increase produce consumption and improve opinions about healthy eating. This program serves as a model for integrating preventive strategies within larger health care systems. Additionally, the model can facilitate early clinical interventions that may benefit medical trainees’ professional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Permanente journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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