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Muscogee Nation to develop 'produce prescription' program in Eastern Oklahoma

A fruit display in a supermarket in Stillwater, Okla.
Gemma / Unsplash
A fruit display in a supermarket in Stillwater, Okla.

The Muscogee Nation will develop a “produce prescription” program with federal funding.

The Indian Health Service granted the Muscogee Nation $500,000 to reduce food insecurity and improve health through the program. It will increase access to fresh vegetables, fruit and traditional foods for people living in the Muscogee Nation.

Utilizing the idea that food can be medicine, healthcare providers can prescribe patients free or lower-cost produce. That increased access to fresh foods can be a treatment for people who are food insecure or have diet-related health conditions.

Other components of produce prescription programs include nutrition education and collaboration between local farmers, food distributors and business owners.

“Food is medicine and nutrition is health,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release. “It is critical that all Americans have access to healthy food.”

Native Americans experience disproportionate rates of food insecurity. Federal policies that forcibly removed Indigenous people from their land also disrupted food systems.

Now, food sovereignty is a focus for many Native communities, including the Muscogee Nation.

Indian Health Service Director Roselyn Tso said the produce prescription program is “recognition of the urgent need to empower and support tribal communities in their pursuit of food sovereignty and well-being.”

The program will evaluate the impact of produce prescriptions on food insecurity.

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Isabel Nissley was an intern at KOSU during the summer of 2023 through the Scripps Howard Fund nonprofit newsroom program.
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