The wholesome consuming program is increasing to serve veterans in Central Oregon Native & State
The VeggieRx program, which prescribes healthy foods to those in need, is expanding this year to reach veterans across central Oregon.
Beginning in June, the Fresh Produce Recipe Program will partner with the Oregon Department of Veterans to serve veterans in Bend, Prineville, and other local cities that may make their homes.
Hannah Brzozowski, a registered nutritionist and program director of VeggieRx at the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance, said the state veterans organization is connecting the program with veterans to help them overcome poor access to fresh food and diet-related diseases like diabetes.
“We are meeting a population that we would otherwise not be able to reach,” said Brzozowski.
Brzozowski and other participants in the program will be distributing grocery kits containing produce from local farms to 75 veterans once a week for 12 weeks over the summer.
The program will distribute groceries to veterans every Thursday starting June 17 in St. Charles Prineville and starting June 30 every Wednesday at the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Bend Veterans Affairs.
The program will also support veterans in the area every Wednesday starting June 16.
VeggieRx not only helps veterans, but also offers its traditional program at the Bend Farmers Market this summer.
Up to 50 people are welcome to register for the program and receive a grocery kit at the farmers’ market every Wednesday for 20 weeks starting June 2nd. The kits contain enough food for around five meals, with half of each meal consisting of vegetables and the other half protein and grains or starches such as pasta or potatoes. No meat is offered, only proteins such as beans or tofu.
Brzozowski said there are still places open for the general public and veterans to join VeggieRx. Interested parties can send ‘veggie’ to 797979 for the application link or call Brzozowski at 541-610-6046.
Another new aspect of the program this year is to partner with the St. Charles Heart and Lung Center in Bend to analyze participants’ blood sugar and body weights and determine how the program will benefit them.
Participants who are patients on the St. Charles Health System are eligible for health surveillance.
“This is really exciting because it brings us more into the clinical world and we hope it will prove that this program is really valuable,” said Brzozowski.
Since its launch in 2018, VeggieRx has served 430 subscribers. While there will be fewer attendees this year compared to previous years, it will reach a wider audience with veterans and provide a more detailed health tracking experience.
“Our numbers will actually be a little lower than last year,” said Brzozowski. “We’re splitting to achieve these two specific goals, to truly understand the biometric implications, and to serve veterans as well.”
Each year the program relies on grants and donations to operate and purchase products from local farms. The program takes approximately $ 100,000 per year to run.
VeggieRx recently applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a $ 370,000 grant to fund the program for the next three years.
Instead of having to put together a budget every year, the grant would provide stable funding and ensure VeggieRx can continue to grow and offer fresh meals
Central Oregon, said Brzozowski.
“It will be good to look a little into the future,” said Brzozowski.