Connect hospitals, health centers, public health departments, and health insurers with suppliers and sellers of locally, grown food to support “Food is Medicine” programs
Build comprehensive “Food is Medicine” programs addressing the food-related needs of patients and their larger community. This will involve working with residents and health professionals (e.g., community nonprofit/hospital collaborations, health centers, public health departments, and health care insurers) to develop clinical training, continuing education, and related resources for medical staff and residents, and health educators. The training and resources will promote healthy food as a form of medicine and support a systemic approach to wellness among patients and caregivers.
In addition to training medical professionals, “Food is Medicine” programs should incorporate wrap-around services such as food insecurity screenings, referrals to community food pantries, and application assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They should increase access to nutrition assistance incentives (double bucks), fruit and vegetable prescription programs, medically tailored meals, and nutrition education at community teaching kitchens. Programs should also prioritize the use of local foods, potentially by working with local farms, farmer cooperatives, and/or food hubs (local facilities that gather, store, process, distribute, and/or market locally-produced foods). This best practice requires investment in:
This best practice requires investment in:
Recent investment in the healthy prescription program. The Department of Health and Human Services has developed standardized screening questions for food insecurity.
MANNA has a program ready for a roll-out for delivery of medically, tailored meals (designed to support a patient’s medical needs). Community Servings (nonprofit) conducted a study with UNC-Chapel Hill, which shows adults with significant medical and social challenges enrolled in medically, tailored meal programs appear to have fewer hospitalizations, admissions to skilled care, and require less medical spending.
MANNA is working with Mission Health System (WNC) to implement client choice pantries, nutritional nudging (small changes in a patient’s food environment that help them make healthy food choices), and food security screening. This is currently at the clinic-specific level. Recent investment in the healthy prescription program. Department of Health and Human Services has developed standardized screening questions for food insecurity.
Lack of funding is preventing the roll-out of MANNA’s medically, tailored meal program. MANNA needs to hire and train staff to provide client screening and other services.
View other promising strategies for investing in NC’s food systems