How To

FARMacy started in Wheeling, WV, but we are expanding statewide. Interested in starting your own program locally? Read more below.

Starting Your Own FARMacy Program

Our team is ready to present the FARMacy Program to any interested group. We strongly suggest that this program be tied to a clinic, hospital, or physician's office in order to succeed. The vital component of the health care provider-patient relationship provides access to the actual prescription for the produce as well as giving credibility to healthy food as medicine. Accountability and monitoring of the patient's progress also play a vital role in a successful outcome. The hope is that once the patient recognizes the benefits of healthy foods, he or she will continue, with support of their provider, as well as access to affordable healthy food, to make the lifestyle changes that are necessary to help control and prevent Chronic Disease.

The Educational component of the FARMacy Program is also essential for success. Knowing how to prepare the fresh produce as well as the nutritional benefit provided have shown by our data to improve the outcomes of both lowering the HgA1c in Type II Diabetics as well as the total cholesterol levels in those with hyperlipidemia. Dining with Diabetes and the Family Nutrition Program are two of the existing programs provided by WVU Extension Services. These programs can be easily incorporated into FARMacy. Working with the WVU Extension program to develop specific education more suited to the size of your FARMacy program may be an option also, especially if there are larger numbers of participants. The Diabetes Prevention Program, which is a CDC program, is also a good reference for educational information and curriculum. It is much longer, but can be tailored to your specific program if necessary.

We would love to help your organization start a FARMacy Program, and we are ready to share information and issues that may help with the process. We are available to come to your site for presentations, or simply via email to answer questions. Please contact us today.

We believe that spreading the good news of the FARMacy concept is a simple and effective way to help fight chronic disease in our state by connecting patients to healthy affordable food and the educational resources to learn more about its preparation and nutritional value.

Go FARMacy!

Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way to help make FARMacy WV successful

Familiarity... A Familiar environment with familiar smiling faces so that patients feel comfortable

Accountability... Through a strong patient-provider relationship with follow up and frequent reinforcement of the concept that FOOD IS MEDICINE

Reminders via phone calls, texts, Facebook and Social media of upcoming FARMacy pick up dates and times. 24 hours before is the best!

Monitoring of blood work pre and post program will continue to validate that a healthy diet helps to improve chronic disease. This can be done during regularly scheduled patient visits.

Accessibility to the FARMacy WV location is vital. Transportation can be difficult for some patients. Work schedules can interfere with times of pick up. Give patients the option of a later pick up that day or the following day if possible. Patients must call the clinic to notify staff of this change the day before or the day of pick up so that food can be stored in a cool place. Consider allowing the patient to have a designated person to pick up their produce if they are unable to so on specific weeks.

Choice is important for patients when it comes to produce selection. This allows the patient to see and touch the produce and provides a sense of autonomy with decisions made.

Yummy Recipes! In other words, education plays an important role in the success of the FARMacy program. Giving patients KNOWLEDGE about nutrition and produce preparation is giving them POWER to help fight chronic disease.

Steps in Developing a FARMacy Program

Secure Funding for the program. This should include the desired number of patients to be served as well as the length of the program. (number of weeks). Various methods include securing a designated weekly amount from the operating budget of the clinic or from money that may be designated for community outreach, wellness, etc. Grant funding and local gifting is available to promote healthy eating and wellness, especially to underserved populations and areas.

Consider a patient “buy in” to the program. This can be done by a weekly copay from the patient. (As is done with actual pharmaceuticals) or an upfront payment at the beginning of the program which may be returned to the patient when the program is completed successfully.

Contract with local growers / farmers in the area to supply produce for the designated number of weeks that the program will run. The WV Department of Agriculture will assist with locating sources of produce if not readily available. They will also help with assistance in setting up quantities of produce needed for the program. Growers will need a dollar amount per patient per week in order to be able to plan for the quantity of produce necessary.

Investigate sources available in the community for nutritional education. WVU Extension Program is available in many counties in the state. Some counties share WVU Extension workers. They can provide education with cooking demonstrations, etc. during the time of produce pickup. They can also provide more formal programs for participants in a group setting at designated times at the clinic. All this is free of charge. Utilizing nutritionists and diabetic educators that may be available in the clinic or local hospital is another way of incorporating the educational component. Some communities may have State or Community Colleges which would be interested in collaborating. Culinary programs, dietetic, and nutrition education programs are always willing to collaborate with community initiatives.

Decide how and when the lab data will be obtained from the participants. This can be done during a regular clinic visit as part of routine lab testing, or it can be obtained independent of visits by giving the patient a lab slip to have the HgA1c and Lipid profile done within the first 2 weeks of the program. Lab testing can be done at the end of the program in the same fashion within several weeks of the last produce pick up. Additional data including weight, BMI, and blood pressures, etc. may be considered for collection before and after the program. This data can become a part of the patients file and reviewed when the patient comes in for appointments. It can be used to encourage continuation of healthy eating, as well as used to promote the FOOD Is MEDICINE concept.

Decide how and when surveys are completed by participants. We will have sample surveys on the website which can be downloaded for your use , or you can create your own survey specific to issues that you would like to investigate about your patient population. Feel free to modify the surveys on the website for your needs. Surveys should be completed within the first 2 weeks of the program and then again within 2 weeks of the last produce pick up. They can be handed out in paper form at the first and last pick up days to be completed immediately. They should not take more than 10 minutes to complete. Surveys may be done on line via Survey Monkey, etc. if this is appropriate for the patient population.

Select a site and time for pickup of the produce. A familiar and safe setting is the best. Clinic or hospital parking lots work well. You will need space for the farmers and growers to set up tables or park trucks for distribution. You should designate a day of the week and specific time. We suggest mornings to early afternoon for at least a 4 hour time span. Notifying the patients by social media, phone calls, etc. 24 hours prior to pick up time is suggested. Signs and reminders about the day and time posted in the clinic are helpful. (Please see the section on "What we’ve Learned" for some helpful hints)

Decide on how prescriptions will be distributed. Participating patients may receive their prescriptions at the time of a clinic visit which is written by their provider, or pre written prescriptions can be distributed at the time of produce pick up by a representative of the clinic to individual participants. The prescription should have the patient’s name on it, should be signed by their provider, and designate that it is for … “one week’s supply of healthy produce”. Prescriptions are then exchanged for produce by the patient. A clinic or facility representative should be present at each designated pick up time to record patient attendance, to collect copays if appropriate, and to monitor the event.

FARMacy photo collage