Special to Iredell Free News

With representatives from multiple organizations cheering them on, 13 patients from HealthReach Community Clinic kicked off the PhytoRx program on June 14 at FeedNC in Mooresville. This cohort is the third group of PhytoRx participants since the program’s inception.

PhytoRx is a unique food prescription program led by Cheri Granillo, nurse practitioner at HealthReach and Translational Nutrition Program Manager at N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute.

Area organizations have partnered over the last several years to bring this program to fruition, including FeedNC, HealthReach Community Clinic, N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, and the United Way of Iredell County.

Program Goals

The primary aim of PhytoRx is to provide participants with prescriptions for healthy fruits and vegetables to help increase consumption of these foods and encourage their incorporation into daily meals. PhytoRx is also introducing food as a form of medicine for health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and eye disease. HealthReach physicians and other providers write the food prescriptions, which are then filled at no cost to the patient by FeedNC.

Granillo has developed a comprehensive online training program for healthcare providers to offer guidance on supplying dietary recommendations to patients. One of the ways providers can improve their dietary guidance is by prescribing foods based on their phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals for Health

Plants have certain phytochemicals that help ward off negative environmental factors. When consumed, these phytochemicals can also help fight against and resist stress that the environment places on the human body.

PhytoRx focuses on prescribing foods containing two specific phytochemicals, anthocyanins and carotenoids. Anthocyanins are found in plants with red and purple pigments, such as blueberries. Carotenoids are found in plants with orange and yellow pigments, such as carrots.

Spanish-Speaking Cohort

For this most recent iteration of PhytoRx, the cohort consists entirely of Spanish-speaking patients from HealthReach Clinic, which provides free medical care and medications for uninsured residents of Iredell County. All program materials have been translated into Spanish.

“We’re so delighted to bring this program to our Spanish-speaking patients,” said Granillo. During the kickoff, she met with participants to provide an overview of the program, discuss next steps, and share tasty recipes. In-person activities will be supplemented by material that participants can access anytime online.

Andrea Sherrill, registered dietitian and Family and Consumer Science agent for N.C. Cooperative Extension in Iredell County, helped to develop PhytoRx video content. These videos offer cooking demonstrations and tips for healthy eating and will support participants for the duration of the program.

Food Delivery

Thanks to a partnership with FeedNC and United Way of Iredell County, PhytoRx participants will receive fresh produce delivered to their door weekly with fruits and vegetables containing the phytochemicals that were included in their prescriptions. These deliveries will also include recipes, measuring cups, and other kitchen tools to help participants prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families. All patients enrolled in PhytoRx have met the required criteria for this service provided by FeedNC.

“Our hope is that participants will become excited about nutritious foods and recipes that perhaps they hadn’t tried before,” said Granillo. “Patients and their families stand to reap so many health benefits from this program.”


Healthcare providers should feel free to reach out to Granillo (cdgranil@ncsu.edu) for information about how they might develop a similar program with their patients.