FOOD for Lane County Partners with Trillium Community Health Plan to Grow Produce Plus and Veggie Rx Programs

EUGENE, OREGON – (June 25, 2018) – Trillium Community Health Plan is partnering with FOOD For Lane County to expand the Produce Plus Program and improve health through a new pilot project that will integrate free access to fresh produce with diabetes prevention education.

As a result of this partnership, Produce Plus is now Trillium Produce Plus and Veggie Rx is now Trillium Veggie Rx.

Forty-four percent of Lane County households can’t meet basic needs, and more than one in five children in Lane County do not have enough to eat. (attribution: 2018 ALICE Report released by United Way of Lane County https://foodforlanecounty.org/the-recession-is-not-over-for-working-families/) FFLC and Trillium understand that food insecurity can lead to a variety of health concerns, including Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Working together to combat hunger and chronic health conditions through programs that create access to fresh, nutrient-dense produce for families in need is key to decreasing food insecurity and improving health outcomes in our local communities.

“The kinds of food with which we fuel our bodies are so important to achieving and maintaining good health. That’s why FOOD For Lane County is excited about our new partnership with Trillium,” says Beverlee Potter, FFLC Executive Director. “Our food bank and Trillium serve many of the same individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity. This partnership gives us the ability and opportunity to distribute more produce and help people get healthier.”

Efforts to combat obesity and provide access to healthy food for the members Trillium serves align with closely with the priorities of FOOD For Lane County (FFLC). The Trillium Produce Plus Program brings free, high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income families at convenient community and neighborhood locations, including medical clinics in Lane County. Trillium’s funds will allow this program to expand to six additional rural clinics. Current sites include Community Health Centers of Lane County, Springfield Family Physicians, Cascade Middle School, Department of Human Services (DHS) offices and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), among others. New sites in rural Lane County include Orchid Clinic in Oakridge, PeaceHealth Medical Group in Florence, Eugene Urgent Care in Junction City and McKenzie River Clinic in Blue River. Additional rural locations are still being identified.

“The obesity epidemic has taken its toll on the health of America and we’ve certainly seen similar trends here in Lane County,” says Karen Gaffney, Trillium Board member and Director of Lane County Health and Human Services. “That is why Trillium has identified obesity prevention as a key issue of focus. Unfortunately, cost is often a barrier for people who are trying to eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods. By providing fresh produce at no cost, we are making it easier for Trillium members to make healthy nutritional choices.”

The Veggie Rx Program, now known as Trillium Veggie Rx, will expand to help address one of the chronic conditions often associated with obesity: diabetes. This new pilot project will integrate

free access to fresh food with diabetes prevention education through the Trillium Diabetes Prevention Program. A group of Trillium members taking the class will be given vouchers for fruits and vegetables that can be used at one of two FOOD For Lane County Youth Farm locations. Trillium and FFLC will each collect data correlating voucher use with improved health outcomes.

“As Trillium’s Chief Medical Officer, I am acutely aware of the health disparities our members face every day,” says Thomas Wuest, MD, MMM. “FOOD For Lane County is helping to reduce such inequities by providing access to fresh, nutritious and ‘homegrown’ food via such programs. Through these and other collaborative efforts we can significantly improve the health of the community.”