A new program is looking to use produce instead of prescription drugs to treat health concerns.
This ‘FARMacy’ program — the first of its kind in West Virginia — is working with five local farmers from Wetzel and Tyler counties to bring fresh food every week.
The state department of agriculture is partnering with Wheeling Health Right and food justice lab at West Virginia University to encourage people to use food as medicine.
“We want to improve our patients’ health here and we want to support our local farmers by giving them an outlet to sell their produce,” said Lisa DuMars, the garden path, Tyler County.
Its goal is to replace prescriptions with fresh produce for healthier lifestyles, all while supporting local farmers.
“This means health for the state,” said Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia commissioner of agriculture. “Not only for health for the citizens of Wetzel county, and hopefully the rest of the state, but also the health of the economy because we’re creating jobs and creating businesses in the agricultural community.”
For its first year, the program is helping 25 patients with various health concerns.
During the next 20 weeks, they hope to tackle weight loss, high blood sugar, bad cholesterol, and blood glucose levels.
The kickoff event at the Wetzel County Hospital gave doctors and patients the chance to get used to the process.
“This is all free for the patients, so they’ll come, they’ll get their A1Cs checked, and then they’ll go through and get to pick through the produce we have here,” said Holly Giovinazzo, Wetzel County FARMacy manager.
“On a regular week, they’ll come, get their prescription from the doctors here, and then bring their prescription for their food as medicine to me, and then we’ll go through the line and get their food.”
The program is working with local farmers.
“We have all of the five farmers here have increased their production, I’m gonna say five or six times to what we were growing in the past,” DuMars said.
“Know your farmer, know your food,” Leonhardt said.
Organizers with the FARMacy program in Wetzel County hope this will be a positive example for the state.