April 19th, 2019 / Author: Cassaundra Lockridge

Fresh Savings Rx Program Highlights Connection Between Food Insecurity and Health

AARP Foundation’s Fresh Savings Rx served over 1,500 households between March 2018 and March 2019. The pilot program, which operated at six clinics in Tennessee and Mississippi, focused on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants who also had a diet-related chronic disease (or are at-risk of one). Through Fresh Savings Rx, health care providers were able to “prescribe” fruits and vegetables to eligible patients and give those patients vouchers worth $60 redeemable at Kroger stores, farmers markets, and local grocers in their community.

Participating clinics saw improved behavior and health outcomes among patients who received Fresh Savings Rx vouchers. Patients learned how food and diet can impact their health and many made changes to their diet by incorporating healthier foods.

In Memphis, Fresh Savings Rx operated at three clinics: Church Health, Regional One Health South Third Primary Care and Regional One Health Internal Medicine. These clinics provided more than 1,000 patients with vouchers, 94 percent of whom were age 50 or older. Each clinic saw an increase in office visits with more patients returning for follow-up appointments.

Church Health offered health coaches to meet regularly with patients to discuss how to manage their diet-related illnesses. The clinic monitored health outcomes and found that 46 percent of Fresh Savings Rx participants improved their blood pressure and 40 percent improved their diabetes (A1c) by at least 10 percent.

The Fresh Savings Rx pilot program further highlights the link between food insecurity and health. More and more clinics are beginning to integrate food insecurity screening questions into their patient intake process to determine if patients can be helped by benefits like SNAP or local food resources.

The Food Research & Action Center and AARP Foundation have provided an online course, “Screen & Intervene: Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” to educate health care and community-based providers around the country about the extent of senior hunger and the solutions that exist to solve it. The course provides training on how to screen patients 50 and older for food insecurity, and information on how to connect food-insecure patients to key nutrition resources, including to SNAP — the first line of defense against hunger for millions of Americans. This one-hour course is approved for 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (for MDs and DOs). In addition, all learners can download a certificate of participation upon completion of the course. Register at seniorhealthandhunger.org for the course.


Fresh Savings Rx is a pilot program sponsored by AARP Foundation that offers additional financial assistance to people who participate in SNAP and have, or are at risk for, diet-related illnesses such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes blood sugar levels, diabetes, and obesity. Health care providers at participating clinics prescribe the vouchers to eligible patients. The vouchers (six $10 vouchers per visit, with two refills permitted) are used to purchase fresh produce at selected Kroger stores and farmers’ markets. For more information about Fresh Savings Rx and other AARP Foundation programs, visit Fresh-Savings.org

The resource was created with funding from AARP Foundation and USDA.