We're All Family! Mobile Food Pharmacy

The 'Food as Medicine' Approach

What is food insecurity and why does it matter?
■ Food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food. In 2016, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, about 42 million Americans and 13 million children. When people do not know where their next meal will come from, finding it often takes priority over things less immediately urgent but still important for health. The challenge is often complicated by the lack of transportation, time and resources to access healthy food, especially in "food desert" communities where grocery stores and farmers' markets are scarce.

■ To improve diets, patients need strong motivation and clear information. But, they must also live in communities where healthy food is affordable and accessible.

What if patients were prescribed fruits and vegetables to manage their health?
■ A major goal of the "Food is Medicine" approach is to utilize the symbolic nature of the prescription and communicate that healthy eating is part of the "doctor's orders." 

■ Providers already give patients nutritional recommendations without providing a way to obtain these foods. Enabling patients to use prescriptions that reduce the cost of purchasing healthy food is a critical step toward making healthy food more accessible.

Solano County Mobile Food Pharmacy

What makes the Solano County Mobile Food Pharmacy so groundbreaking?
■ Made possible by a grant from Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Mobile Food Pharmacy is a unique model that links health care with access to free, fresh produce and healthy cooking resources through a partnership with the Food Bank of Contra Costa, Solano and Solano Public Health and Family Health Services.

■ The Mobile Food Pharmacy is the first of its kind to employ a truck that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to the different Family Health Services (FHS) clinics throughout Solano County on a weekly schedule. It is innovative in that it eliminates barriers - such as lack of transportation and time - that patients face by bringing the healthy food to them right after their appointments. FHS patients are also provided with free cookbooks and recipe cards. This makes healthy cooking affordable and accessible to the patients.

What does the Mobile Pharmacy hope to achieve?
The goal is to improve health outcomes of FHS patients by promoting healthy eating, addressing food insecurity, and, in using food as an incentive, increasing attendance at clinic appointments.

How does the Mobile Food Pharmacy work?
■ FHS patients receive a prescription for free fresh produce during their regular appointments on the days the Mobile Food Pharmacy truck is parked by the clinic. Patients then pick up a bag of nutritious foods and can learn about healthy cooking through cookbooks and recipe cards.

What is the schedule?
MONDAYS - Vallejo Family Health Services, 365 Tuolumne St, Vallejo
TUESDAYS - Fairfield Family Health Services, 2201 Courage Dr, Fairfield
WEDNESDAYS - Vacaville Family Health Services, 1119 E Monte Vista Ave, Vacaville
THURSDAYS - Global Center for Success, 1055 Azuar Dr, Vallejo