The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) was awarded a two-year grant for $110,000 from Tufts Health Plan Foundation. The funds will be used to create a statewide inventory of nutrition programs available to older people and their households to make it easier for health care providers, payers and social service agencies to connect eligible patients to Food is Medicine services. This is one of 13 new community investments totaling $1.7 million that reflect the Foundation’s support of collaborative community efforts and systems change to advance healthy aging.
“We have an opportunity to think differently about how our systems are addressing community needs,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. “We are living in unprecedented times. We need to learn from this experience and think about how we can change the conditions that hold problems in place.”
This project is a priority for Food is Medicine Massachusetts, a coalition of more than 70 organizations committed to realizing the goals outlined in the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan. Older people are disproportionately impacted by nutrition-related diseases. Many older people rely heavily on Food is Medicine services – or the provision of food specifically tailored to health conditions – that can help to improve health outcomes and control health care costs. However, there is currently no accessible, centralized database of Food is Medicine programs in Massachusetts. The inventory will fill this gap and help ensure that older adults in Massachusetts can access the foods they need to heal and thrive.
CHLPI will work in partnership with Community Servings, a Boston-based not-for-profit medically tailored meal provider. These organizations have worked together with local and national partners to develop the evidence and policy base for integrating Food is Medicine interventions into health care delivery and financing
“There has long been a need for a centralized, easily accessible database of Food is Medicine programs serving older people and their households,” explained Robert Greenwald, Faculty Director of CHLPI. “Such infrastructure will help facilitate referral partnerships and promote access to the funding needed to scale programs and meet the demand for services. This project is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic as we work to keep older adults – especially those with chronic illness — healthy at home and out of emergency rooms.”