JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In 2019, the USDA’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) was created in order to boost access to healthy, organic foods and locally-grown products to places where access might otherwise be lacking. In a recent update, the Adirondacks were added to the list of regions getting some of the benefits.

This week, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County was named as one of 43 recipients of the GusNIP program’s Produce Perscription funding. The program is used by healthcare providers to create “prescriptions” for fresh fruit and vegetables. Prescribing health is the name of the game.

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s new dose of funding will be converted into the North Country Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. Referred patients across Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton and Essex counties will receive $25 in vouchers for fresh produce at each in a series of six weekly workshops. Those workshops will be run by SNAP nutrition educators and will include lessons in creating a balanced diet, as well as information for stretching food dollars and preparing healthier recipes at home.

Vouchers can be redeemed with a variety of local producers, farmers, grocery stores and other retailers throughout the North Country. In addition to the vouchers, participants will also receive a kitchen tool at each weekly meeting.

North Country residents can talk to their healthcare provider about signing up for the Produce Perscription program. Eligibility is determined by food insecurity risk and diet-related chronic diseases. Questions regarding the program can be brought to April Bennett at Cornell Cooperative Extension, at aln48@cornell.edu or (315) 788-8450.