VNA Health Care Receives Grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture

VNA Health Care recently received a $488,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables. The funding comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The grant supports VNA’s innovative program FreshFirst, a partnership with the City of Aurora. The program provides 450 SNAP participant families with weekly education classes and 20 weeks of fresh fruit and vegetable prescriptions. The prescriptions are exchanged for tokens valued at $25 per week to redeem at the Aurora Farmer’s Market. Through the partnership with the City of Aurora, VNA hosts a Farmer’s Market every Wednesday while the program meets. The tokens can be redeemed on-site at VNA or at one of the other Farmer’s Market locations in Aurora.

“FreshFirst is a fun way for both children and adults to learn about the health benefits of eating fresh produce. It gives participants and their families the opportunity to try new vegetables and fruits, and learn why they should make the effort to eat healthy,” says Ann Cheverton, Vice President of Specialty Care and Wellness Services.

Families participating in FreshFirst come to a free nutrition education class in VNA’s Healthy Lifestyle Center and Kitchen at 400 N. Highland Avenue every Wednesday. The class includes a cooking demonstration using fresh produce from the Farmer’s Market stand at VNA.

VNA focused on recruiting pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers along with families with small children to participate in FreshFirst.  The grant supports three years of the program, with an estimated total impact of 1,800 individuals.

VNA offers free wellness classes with cooking demonstrations to the general public at 400 N. Highland Avenue in Aurora. Visit our website at www.vnahealth.com and click on the calendar for the complete schedule.

VNA Health Care operates 10 clinics in suburban Chicago and serves over 65,000 people a year. VNA is nationally ranked as a top performing health center as a result of patient outcomes such as prenatal care, adolescent weight screening and counseling, vascular disease treatment, blood pressure control, healthy birthweights, and asthma care. VNA’s combination of convenience (by appointment or walk-in), patient-centered technology and expert care delivered with respect and compassion have led to these results. VNA is accredited by The Joint Commission.

The Aurora Farmers Market is the oldest Farmers Market in Illinois. The Market offers fresh produce, specialty food products, artisan crafts, and more. For more information on Aurora’s Farmers Market log onto the City’s website at www.aurora-il.org or call (630) 256-INFO (4636).

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