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Walgreens, University of Chicago team up for Food Rx
August 16th, 2012
CHICAGO – Walgreen Co. has partnered with University of Chicago Medicine to launch "Food Rx," an initiative to help people with diabetes improve their eating habits by making better food choices more accessible and affordable.
As part of the initiative, diabetes patients who visit one of six clinics on Chicago's South Side can receive a prescription-like checklist of their doctor's food recommendations and a coupon for $5 off the purchase of $20 of healthy food at participating Walgreens drug stores. Patients also can get a $3 voucher for the weekly 61st Street Farmers Market in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
According to Food Rx organizers, Walgreens' prominence in urban communities and its commitment to providing greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains in many locations make it an ideal ally.
"Walgreens is uniquely positioned to help improve health outcomes through the pharmacy, health and wellness services we provide and by making fresh and affordable food options available to South Side communities with limited access to healthier options," Denise Scarpelli, Walgreens' market pharmacy director, said in a statement. "Through this program, the important patient-pharmacist relationship is taken to a new level and connects people with their pharmacist in a meaningful way."
Dr. Monica Peek, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research, noted that the initiative gives a doctor's advice on diet the power of a prescription.
"The factors driving the diabetes prevalence rate on the South Side are multifaceted, and addressing them requires a comprehensive, nuanced approach," stated Peek, who heads the Food Rx effort. "Many of the patients we see have challenges accessing and preparing healthy food. Through continued education and initiatives like this one, we're working to chip away at the obstacles and alter behaviors.”
The Food Rx initiative builds on the work done by a project called Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago, which is based at University of Chicago Medicine. Efforts under way as part of that project include patient education, grocery store tours, tools for health care providers, improvements to clinic systems and relationships with community organizations such as food pantries.