UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Aspirus Health’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program has launched for 2022 to help provide patients with access to fresh produce.

Through the program, eligible patients are given a prescription to use at one of the participating farmers markets in the Aspirus service area. Patients are identified by the Patient-Centered Medical Home team and Health Resource Team as having a need, whether it be food insecurity, low income, chronic conditions, or lack of access to produce.

“While canned fruits and vegetables are a great way to bring more colorful foods into the home; summer is the perfect time to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Taylor Paul, RDN, registered dietitian with Aspirus. “As a bonus, buying them at a farmers market is a fantastic opportunity to support our local farmers.”

Aspirus offers the following tips to get the most out of a trip to the farmers market as they begin to open up:

  • Go early. You may not need to be among the first arrivals for a weekday market, but weekend markets get busy fast. If you arrive too late, the best pickings may be gone.
  • Bring cash and reusable bags. Transactions will go easier if you have a pocket of small bills. Plus, you need sturdy bags to carry your items home.
  • Talk to the vendors. The sellers want to talk about their fruits, veggies, and jams. Ask for buying and storing tips. They can often give you recipe ideas too.

“A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is great for our mind, body and soul, but not everyone has the same access to these items,” Paul said. “This program is designed to get more nutritious foods in the hands of more families in our communities.”

Weekly farmer’s markets throughout the UP are starting to open. Aspirus lists the following located throughout the region:

  • Houghton | Tuesday | 4 pm – 7 pm
  • Hancock | Thursday | 3 pm – 6 pm
  • Calumet | Saturday | 10 am – 2 pm
  • Lake Linden | Friday | 4 pm – 7 pm
  • Gogebic County | Friday | 4 pm – 6:30 pm
  • Gogebic County | Tuesday | 4 pm – 6:30 pm
  • Iron County, Wis. | Wednesday | 3 pm – 6 pm
  • Iron County, Wis. | Saturday | 10 am – 1 pm

For more information on the program or to see if you qualify, check out Aspirus’ website here.