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 14 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!
How FARMACY Works
Any patient with a diagnosis of
Participating patients must have an annual income that is equal to or less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the current year, for their household size. Proof of income is required for all people in the household. Any participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) qualifies with proof of SNAP benefit letter.
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. Each participating patient must agree to complete a survey at the beginning and at the end of the market season.
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.