FAQs | Wholesome Wave


How Can We Help?


Do you only help people purchase fruits & vegetables? What about other healthy foods?

While a wide variety of foods can be part of a healthy diet, everyone agrees that produce is essential to eat every single day for health. Only 1 in 10 American children eats enough fruits and vegetables.

Does the produce prescription program just serve individual patients? What about the rest of their families?

We provide produce prescriptions for the patient’s whole household. That’s because change happens on a family level. Numerous studies indicate greater success when a patient needing to make a lifestyle change is not treated in isolation. Lasting change happens when the entire family participates.

How has the government responded to this work?

The United States Department of Agriculture has embraced nutrition incentives, investing $100 million to support these programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Gus Schumacher became our founding board chair. At our summit in 2016, Kevin Concannon, former Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, USDA, referenced the new Dietary Guidelines’ call for Americans to eat more fresh produce, asking “what better way than through farmers markets?”

How much food do Americans redeem annually through these programs?

Each year through our programs, SNAP (food stamp) shoppers spend over $3 million.

Is this cause only supported by people on the political Left?

No - nutrition incentives enjoy hearty bi-partisan support. Wholesome Wave is founded on the idea of choice, and offers a market-based solution. We also see that economic decisions can have powerful social impacts. All Americans should be able to choose to buy a head of broccoli, rather than a bag of chips. When we provide the financial incentive on produce purchases, we ensure that all Americans can choose to use their buying power for good.

There’s not a produce-prescription program near me. What’s involved in launching a new location?

Hospitals or clinics can partner with an area grocery store or farmers market to launch and run the program. It takes teamwork, but we can show you how to do it. Members of Wholesome Wave's Network receive access to our Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program toolkit on establishing and growing produce prescription programs - it walks you through every step, including fundraising strategies, and has been downloaded thousands of times. Or reach out to our team of on-staff experts, available to consult for projects large and small.

What do people say about your programs?

Alin Son, a shopper at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market in Virginia said: "As a SNAP recipient, I truly value the incentive program as it allows me to buy fresh, healthy foods with my SNAP card, and get extra funds for fruits and vegetables. I care for my elderly father and this program helps my family have access to healthy foods despite our financial limitations." 

What foods can people buy through this program?

SNAP (Food Stamps) can only be spent on food, or on plants or seeds that grow food for your household to eat. (It cannot be used to purchase hot foods, fast food, household supplies, alcohol or tobacco, or anything else.) We double the value of SNAP with matching funds that can only be spent on fruits and vegetables. So if someone spends $10 in SNAP (perhaps on pasta or eggs or peanut butter), we provide $10 in coupons that can only be spent on produce.

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is America’s largest safety net program. More than 40 million Americans rely on SNAP to eat.

What is the impact of a $100 gift to Wholesome Wave?

$100 would support a family of four with produce for a month. 

When people qualify for SNAP (Food Stamps), how much do they receive?

In 2016, SNAP shoppers received an average $125 per person—less than $5 per day.

Who qualifies for produce prescriptions?

Patients at participating clinics or hospitals can check with their doctor to see if they qualify for FVRx. Qualifications vary slightly by location but the program is designed for low-income patients at a high risk of diet-related disease. 

Who receives SNAP (food stamps)?

Over 40 millions Americans rely on SNAP to have enough to eat. Three-quarters of households receiving SNAP have a child, elderly individual or person with disabilities in the home. Vulnerable households, including single-parent families in poverty, experience much higher rates of food insecurity than the general population.

Why make produce affordable?

When people can afford produce, they buy it. And when the millions of Americans struggling with poverty eat more fruits and vegetables, we see immediate improvements for families and farmers—and enormous long-term gains for public health, local economies, and the environment.

Why support Wholesome Wave?

Lack of fresh produce has created one of the most troubling health epidemics in our history, and poses a more serious threat to life than war, gun violence or smoking. 1 in 3 kids in the US are obese, and the rates are highest for children in poverty. Not to mention the billions our country spends on diet-related illness each year. Worst of all, it can all be prevented. Poverty should never be an obstacle to something as fundamental as fruits and vegetables. 

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Why focus on food? What about bigger problems?

The fact is, food touches so many other issues. When people spend more money on produce, farms, merchants and businesses thrive and create more jobs. Local agricultural economies benefit, and farmers keep farming. Fruit-and-vegetable agriculture provides 2.6 times more economic value than conventional crops. And when people can afford daily produce, over time, public health improves. Children do better in school, people stay out of emergency rooms and avoid expensive treatments like insulin and dialysis. As a nation, we stand to save billions on healthcare costs. This is why we call these outcomes a win-win-win. Maybe it would be more accurate to call it a win-win-win-win-win!

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