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Food prescriptions for healthy living

Written By: Simone Sonnier, UT Physicians | Updated: January 28, 2020
A patient selects her healthy food choices with help from a Houston Food Bank worker. (Photo by Amanda Patterson)

A patient selects her healthy food choices with help from a Houston Food Bank worker. (Photo by Amanda Patterson)

On the morning of Friday, Jan. 24, patients of the UT Physicians Multispecialty – Jensen clinic lined up outside the door. Each person was ready to refill a prescription their physician deemed exceptionally important for their overall wellbeing – healthy food.

Marlon Stewart, Jensen practice manager
Marlon Stewart, Jensen practice manager, greets the participants of the Food Rx program outside the mobile market. (Photo by Amanda Patterson)

In collaboration with the Houston Food Bank, our Jensen clinic participates in the Food Rx program. Patients must be referred to the program by their physician and fall within certain guidelines. Participants must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over or have medical conditions that could be improved with a healthier diet, such as diabetes.

“Food insecurity is a major barrier for our Jensen community, and access to healthy food is a key social determinant to health. Food Rx operates with the understanding that healthy food can be medicine for people with multiple chronic conditions, and food insecurity can make any goal to self-manage one’s health difficult. It is so exciting that we can offer this program to our patients as a complement to providers’ and staff’s health education efforts,” said Natalia Williams, MPH, community health education specialist at UT Physicians.

After checking in with UT Physicians staff, patients line up at the mobile market waiting for their chance to shop. Participants can add up to 30 pounds of fruit and vegetables, along with four additional healthy food items, all for free. Every three months, patients follow up with their physician to update their health profile to track and manage their progress throughout the program.

“The mobile market trailer is just one more effort to eliminate barriers to participating in the program – bringing a source of healthy food to a familiar place here at the clinic, and in the heart of the community where our patients live. It is encouraging to see so many of our patients leave the market trailer with bags of fresh fruits and vegetables, and I love to hear the creative ways they use food from the Food Rx program at home,” said Williams.

This is the second time the Houston Food Bank mobile market stopped by to serve the Jensen clinic. Currently, there are 107 patients who participate in the program. With community health education specialists and physicians tracking the progress of each individual, there has been a notable decrease in BMI for those patients who attend the available markets.

Patient checking in for Food Rx program
Natalia Williams, MPH, checks in patient, Felicia Dale, for the mobile market. (Photo by Amanda Patterson)

Felicia Dale was one of the visitors who visited the mobile market that day. “I have a lot of health issues and I need to lose weight. I want to eat healthier, but sometimes my groceries can get a little low. That’s why something like this is nice. Every little bit helps, so I can live longer,” said Dale.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a physician at UT Physicians Multispecialty – Jensen, visit their page or call 713-486-8550.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.