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Social Prescriptions: Why Some Health-care Practitioners Are Prescribing Food to Their Patients

Angela is a 54-year-old mother of two living with Type 2 diabetes in a small apartment in Guelph, Ont. Despite steady access to health care and a physician who encourages regular exercise and healthy eating, Angela’s complications have worsened in recent years. These complications cause mobility challenges, sometimes rendering her unable to leave the house.

Angela blames her poor diet. Due to her limited income, she frequently misses meals, goes some days without food and can often only afford nutrient-poor (but more affordable) foods.

Angela is classified as severely food insecure, which means she is one of more than 4.4 million people in Canada who are unable to acquire a diet of sufficient quality or quantity. Food insecurity is a public health crisis in Canada that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During one of Angela’s recent visits to the Guelph Community Health Centre, a nurse practitioner surprised her with a new “prescription” for fresh fruits and vegetables.