Food as Medicine

1 in 7 individuals in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are considered food insecure. That’s 14% of the population! In 2021, a group was convened to address this issue and improve the health and wellness of residents throughout the region.

The Food as Medicine Collaboration, consisting of over 25 partner organizations and agencies, works to increase access to nutritious food, with a priority on access to locally grown, raised, or gathered foods. Through this collaboration a prescription for health program was initiated. Individuals over 18 at risk for or already diagnosed with a chronic health condition, and who have an economic barrier to accessing healthy food, can be “prescribed” fruits and vegetables by their doctor.

The Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP) administers this program, which sends participating individuals vouchers to be spent at area farmers markets. You can learn more, including which clinics, hospitals, and farmers markets are participating at

A second goal of the Food as Medicine collaboration is to increase the supply of local food by supporting the growth of farms and the food system. In addition to helping onboard area farmers markets to the Prescription for Health Program, the UPFE team worked with UPCAP to provide infrastructure grants to farmers. Farms often lack the capital necessary to expand their operations. If farms cannot increase production, the ability of programs such as prescription for health to meet participant demand is not possible. If we support the growth of our farms, we also support access to fresh, healthy food for more residents of the U.P.

From 2022-2023 thirteen farms were awarded $14,000 each to add cold storage facilities to their farm. This investment allows farms to grow and harvest more food because they have a safe place to store it, attend more farmers markets because they can harvest ahead of time, and increases the availability of food later in the year, as the coolers can be used to keep storage crops long into the winter.

You can learn more about this program from the farmers themselves in the video below, produced with Bennett Media Group.

For information on the latest farmer infrastructure grant visit


Cold Storage Video (2)