Walgreen Co. is teaming up with the University of Chicago Medicine to launch a “Food Rx” initiative designed to help people with diabetes improve their eating habits by making better food choices more accessible and affordable.


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Walgreens looks to provide 'Food Rx'

August 27th, 2012

CHICAGO – Walgreen Co. is teaming up with the University of Chicago Medicine to launch a “Food Rx” initiative designed to help people with diabetes improve their eating habits by making better food choices more accessible and affordable.

As part of the initiative, diabetes patients who visit one of six clinics in Chicago’s South Side can receive a prescription-like checklist of their doctor’s food recommendations and a coupon for $5 off the purchase of $20 worth of healthy food at participating Walgreens locations. Patients also can get a $3 voucher for the weekly 61st Street Farmers Market in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

Dr. Monica Peek, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research, said the initiative gives a doctor’s advice on diet the power of a prescription.

“The factors driving the diabetes prevalence rate on the South Side are multifaceted, and addressing them requires a comprehensive, nuanced approach,” said Peek, who heads the Food Rx initiative. “Many of the patients we see have challenges accessing and preparing healthy food. Through continued education and initiatives like this one, we’re working to chip away at the obstacles and alter behaviors.”

The Food Rx initiative builds on the work done by a project called Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago, which is based at the University of Chicago Medicine. Efforts already under way as part of that project include patient education, grocery store tours, tools for health care providers, improvements to clinic systems and relationships with community organizations such as food pantries.

Food Rx organizers say that Walgreens’ prominence in urban communities and its commitment to providing greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains in many locations make it an ideal ally.

“Walgreens is uniquely positioned to help improve health outcomes through the pharmacy, health and wellness services we provide and by making fresh and affordable food options available to South Side communities with limited access to healthier options,” said Denise Scarpelli, Walgreens market pharmacy director. “Through this program, the important patient-pharmacist relationship is taken to a new level and connects people with their pharmacist in a meaningful way.”

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