Produce prescription program launches in Live Oak

The Felton and Scotts Valley farmers markets reopen the first week of May.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Platos de Bienestar: Healthy Plates aims to make it easier for 60 patients of the Live Oak Health Center to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets, and participants can fill that prescription at the Live Oak farmers market.

This story was originally featured in this week’s Lily Belli on Food newsletter. Be first the first to hear about food and drink news in Santa Cruz County — sign up for Lily’s email newsletter here and text alerts here.

A new program through Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets is making healthy produce available more affordably to people who need it. Platos de Bienestar: Healthy Plates is what’s known as a produce prescription program. The concept is simple: The program helps provide individuals with a “prescription” to eat more produce, and that prescription can be filled at the Live Oak farmers market through November.

According to Nicole Zahm, the market’s communications and programs manager, 60 Live Oak Health Center patients have been selected for the pilot program based on a set of eligibility requirements. They’ll be given tokens to use at the market, in an effort to help them purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Funding for the program comes from the Central California Alliance for Health.

Additionally, the market and the Live Oak Health Clinic will host a series of special events every third Sunday of the month, in partnership with the Live Oak School District and the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. That includes bilingual story time, arts and crafts and more. The clinic also will host monthly health-related events for participants.

Next year, the Platos program will be expanded to the Downtown Women’s Health Center Clinic and the Ben Lomond Clinic, partnering with the downtown Santa Cruz, Felton and Scotts Valley markets.