Local Farmacy Rx is a 12-week program providing cooking and nutrition education to families who may be at risk for developing diet-related diseases. Participants are referred through healthcare providers, community organizations, and peers. The program starts middle of July through early October.
Utilizing Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters nutrition curriculum while emphasizing and supporting the purchase and consumption of locally produced foods is a cornerstone of the program. Local Farmacy Rx Manager Emily Moen Eastham explains that the program's existence "is a critical educational component for youth and adults alike." She adds, "With generations being raised in the era of packaged foods, it's integral that we connect people with real, local, whole-ingredient foods and teach the basics of nutrition, meal-planning, and grocery shopping from a young age. Nutrition education is the key to healthier people, families, and communities."
Ultimate outcomes of Local Farmacy Rx are to increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, increase physical activity, and decrease screen time. Additionally, the program fosters key community partnerships between healthcare providers, nutrition educators, and local food producers. Among families, it cultivates a support system where healthy eating and physical activity is encouraged during potlucks and other gatherings. According to Ann Evans, a past participant along with her husband and children, the program has had lasting benefits for her family. As Ann shares, "Local Farmacy Rx is where my two young daughters began connecting food with physical energy and we learned how to cook healthy vegetables like squash. It helped them to become better eaters and eliminated our food battles at home.
While the program allows participants to complete one full term, many continue to stay engaged by becoming "mentors" to other participants. As Trisha Nolan, a past participant turned mentor, explains it, "When my family and I participated in the program about four years ago, it opened our eyes to healthy eating and cooking. We all learned tips on saving money and were inspired to come together at meal time. My family now benefits from healthy eating, great recipes, and having fun in the kitchen." Trisha enthusiastically adds, "I can't say enough about this community project. To continue my experience with this great program, I now volunteer wherever they need me."
Local Farmacy Rx purchases all food used in classes directly from local producers. During the past four years, over $35,000 has been pumped back into the local economy as a result of the program through food purchases made directly from local producers at the Montrose Farmers Market or farm stands.
Community support of Local Farmacy Rx continues to grow each year. Since its beginning in 2014, the program has grown over 120% from demand and has served nearly 300 participants in the Montrose area. In 2018, the program is partnering with Tri County Health Network and will expand into neighboring Delta County at the request of Delta's healthcare community.