SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A local doctor is prescribing something different to her patients and it’s not medicine. Well, it’s a different kind of medicine.

Dr. Karissa Merritt is prescribing healthy food to her patients and they can redeem those prescriptions at Crosslines and Springfield Community Gardens. The idea is to help patients who are food insecure.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports one in eight Missourians had difficulty at some point in 2018 providing enough food for everyone in their household. So, healthy food prescriptions were Dr. Merritt’s way of helping bridge that gap.

The idea came out because Dr. Merritt spent a lot of time in pediatrics working with small children, and she says there are a lot of resources for children. Doctors ask if there is enough food, for example, but the same is not being done with adults. 
So, when she started working with adults, she thought something could be done. She started asking those same questions and initiated a change to create a system to identify food-insecure families and to prescribe them healthy foods. 

“The food that we choose matters,” Dr. Merritt said. “Food really is medicine. It’s preventative healthcare.”

She says starting with the right type of food for families who can’t afford to eat a healthier diet is step one to treating some diseases that are lifestyle-related like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

“Just because someone is in a low socioeconomic status does not mean that they should be relegated to chronic disease, as a result of their inability to afford quality food,” Dr. Merritt said. 

Watch the interview above to find out more.