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The U.S Department of Health and Human Services, through Indian Health Service, announced the availability of $2.5 million in funding to support the development of the Produce Prescription Programs in tribal communities.

Produce prescription programs help individuals who are experiencing food insecurity and diet related health problems access more fresh fruits and vegetables by obtaining a prescription from a healthcare provider. These programs have been shown to increase access to nutritious food in communities at risk for food insecurity. 

“Food is medicine and nutrition is health. It is critical that all Americans have access to healthy food,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release Monday. “Programs like this feed directly into our Administration’s goal of building healthier communities at the local level. This announcement will help to make it easier for American Indian and Alaska Native communities to enjoy healthy eating and good nutrition.” 

Launching the programs will help reduce food insecurity and improve health care outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people by increasing access to fresh produce and other traditional foods within Native communities.

The effort is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, all while reducing disparities. 

Eligible applicants for the new funding opportunity must identify a target population; develop an infrastructure that fosters collaboration with a healthcare facility and local markets, organizations, and services that provide fresh fruits, vegetables and traditional foods; implement a nutrition education program; and develop an evaluation plan that measures food insecurity, health outcomes, and utilization of services over time. 

Approximately four to six awards will be issued under this program announcement for a performance period of five years. The Notice of Funding Opportunity Announcement is located in the Federal Register. 

"This funding is not just an allocation of resources, but a resounding commitment to addressing food insecurity in American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said IHS Director Roselyn Tso in a press release earlier this week. “It is a recognition of the urgent need to empower and support tribal communities in their pursuit of food sovereignty and well-being."

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