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Fruit & veg heroes to the rescue in pilot scheme

An innovative pilot, thought to be the UK’s first large-scale ‘Fruit & Veg on Prescription’ project, has been launched to help tackle health inequality and food poverty.

Alexandra Rose Charity, in partnership with public health teams in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, launched the scheme as part of a £250,000 pilot funded by local authorities and a charitable foundation.

The projects will be delivered in partnership with the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets, one of the earliest pioneers of social prescribing, and by The Beacon Project in Lambeth.

Trials in the boroughs, which both have high rates of chronic disease, will explore the viability of fruit and veg on prescription as a long-term solution to tackling diet-related ill health and food insecurity.

Each person will be prescribed Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg and will receive up to £8 per week in vouchers, plus £2 per week for each household member.

Participants can spend their Rose Vouchers on the fruit and veg of their choice with local retailers and market traders. In Tower Hamlets, they will also be invited to take part in monthly healthy lifestyle group sessions to improve their understanding of nutrition and health.

Alexandra Rose Charity operates in eight locations across the UK, supporting communities via its Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Projects – these help families on low incomes to buy fresh fruit and veg.

The charity, which has been doing this work since 2014, says diet-related ill health costs the NHS billions each year. Prescribing fruit and veg using a social prescribing approach that considers a person’s whole life situation could prevent premature death and significantly reduce healthcare costs.

“Fruit & Veg on Prescription is an idea whose time has come,” said Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive at Alexandra Rose Charity.

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