Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC), a federally qualified health center, with 11 clinics in the Eastern Kentucky counties of Letcher, Perry, Owsley, Knott, Pike, Bell, and Harlan and fourteen school-based clinics in the school districts of Letcher County, Owsley County and Jenkins Independent, has partnered with the City of Whitesburg/Letcher County Farmer’s Market, Owsley County Farmer’s Market and Leatherwood Farmer’s Market to provide increased access to locally grown fruits and vegetables through an innovative nutrition program known as FARMACY. This program began in 2015 with one Market and has since expanded to three markets, with plans for further expansion in the near future.
How FARMACY Works
There are two ways for MCHC patients to be eligible for the FARMACY program.
Pregnant women qualify regardless of income.
Patients diagnosed with Diabetes, Obesity, and/or Hypertension qualify IF they are participants in the US Department of Agriculture’s SNAP program.
In order for eligibility to be established, the patient must have one of the above mentioned diagnoses and must receive a prescription from an MCHC clinical provider, which says “OK FARMACY”. The patient takes this prescription to an eligibility assistance counselor, who then begins the eligibility determination process. If determined to be eligible, the patient must submit to the collection of data for the program, which consists of initial measures such as body mass index (BMI), height, weight, blood pressure, and A1C levels to set their baseline in order for us to determine what impact the FARMACY program may have on the patient’s health and well-being.
Once eligibility is determined, the patient will check in weekly, by presenting their photo I.D. at their local Farmer’s Market and will receive $35 in tokens each week. These tokens can be used like cash, to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from Farmer’s Market vendors.
At the end of the market day, the local farmers cash in the FARMACY tokens with the market manager to receive payment via a check from the market.
MCHC also sponsors blender bikes to promote physical activity and healthy eating at all participating Farmer’s Market locations. The blender bikes are stationary bikes with blenders attached, that make smoothies out of fresh fruits and vegetables as the riders pedal the bikes.
The FARMACY program has been a “win-win-win” as stated by MCHC Chief Executive Officer, L.M. (Mike) Caudill. The patients win because they have access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost to them, and the hope is that patients’ health outcomes will improve, and that their culture of eating will shift and improve to healthier choices of preparation and choice. The community and farmers win because of the additional funding stream to the participating Farmer’s Markets and the local farmers which creates even more economic activity in the community. MCHC wins because it potentially results in better health for our patients and spotlights the patient-centered mentality of MCHC in the dawn of the era of pay for performance health care. MCHC plans to expand the FARMACY program to other counties in the MCHC service area, as resources permit.
If you would like additional information about MCHC or the MCHC FARMACY program, please visit us on the web and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mchcky.