"Veggie Vouchers" Help Farmers' Markets Compete with Fast Food

Monday, August 23 2010

Three health centers in Massachusetts recently started a pilot program in which families receive coupons  redeemable at local farmers' markets. Trying to combat obesity in children of low-income families, the doctors give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient's family. 

Now consider this quote I found: "America is the only country in the world where the poor people are overweight." 

Ok, what's wrong with both these pictures? What's the solution to making both of them right?

What's wrong with the second picture is obvious. I conjure up images of robust (well, alright, rotund) European royalty hosting nightly gorge-fests, in their finest garb, watched by the thin, raggedy peasant populace. Now in America, it seems, the well off are often svelte (thanks in part to Whole Foods and expensive gyms) although still fashionably dressed while the poor clutch their coupons for "value meals" that tally a two-day allotment of calories in a single meal and are rather well dressed, thanks to Wal-Mart and their ample selection of plus-sizes. 

The solution for righting both pictures, I think, lies in making lots of photocopies of the first picture, duplicating such programs in all 50 states, concentrating on the poorest urban areas. Then overhaul the food stamp program so that it covers fruit, veggies and "staples" -- NOT salty snacks or processed foods.

Are any of you family doctors? Why not start a similar "Veggie Voucher" program in partnership with your peers and your local mayors, perhaps with the help of foundations or other nonprofit groups?   

The spark for the "Veggie Voucher" name came from a New York Times article on August 13, 2010: "Eat an Apple (Doctor's Orders)". I'll bet the article will spark a lot of ideas for you too. 

Check out a discussion board on the "America is the only country in the world where the poor people are overweight."

Category: Enigmas, Tough Challenges
Filed under: Food, Obesity Poverty, Social Justice