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Organic Consumers Association

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New York City Is Giving Out Prescriptions for Free Fruits and Vegetables

For people with low access to healthy food and high blood pressure, it’s free money for groceries.

About every other patient who walks up to Abid Nadeem’s counter at Dyckman Pharmacy in the Inwood section of Manhattan is picking up prescription medication to treat high blood pressure — losartan, telmisartan, beta blockers like metoprotolol, bepridil and other calcium channel blockers. But Nadeem’s favorite prescription to hand out to these patients is the one they can use to get $30 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at the nearby Inwood Greenmarket, for free. 

In May, Nadeem, the supervising pharmacist at Dyckman, was selected to join New York City’s Pharmacy to Farm program, which provides extra money each month for fresh produce to people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and are on medication for hypertension. One in five New Yorkers is on SNAP; one in four has high blood pressure. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure and reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke.

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