The Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan is an initiative that will assess the need for and access to Food is Medicine interventions across the state of Massachusetts. Based upon this assessment, we will develop and publish a report containing concrete strategies that organizations and state agencies can use to improve access to Food is Medicine over time.
Food is Medicine describes the provision of nutritious food tailored to the medical needs of an individual who lives with one or more health conditions likely to be affected by diet, such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and HIV. In a small but growing number of cases in Massachusetts and across the country, Food is Medicine interventions are becoming integrated into holistic, patient-centered models of care for individuals with complex chronic illnesses. These interventions may include, for example:
Emerging research overwhelmingly suggests that connecting people with complex health conditions to Food is Medicine interventions is an effective and low-cost way to improve health outcomes, decrease utilization of expensive health services, and enhance quality of life for these individuals, who are often socially, as well as medically vulnerable.
While Massachusetts has an impressive number of pioneering programs and providers that are working together in innovative ways to ensure that people living with serious illness have the specific nutrition they need to heal, and ultimately, to thrive, these interventions are not evenly available across the state, leaving out many individuals who could benefit significantly from these services.
Data Gathering and Analysis
Using publicly available data, we will rigorously assess and articulate the need for Food is Medicine interventions and practices across the state by examining community-level burden of chronic and serious illnesses whose trajectory can be mitigated by proper nutrition.
We will develop and administer a survey to health providers, insurers, and food and nutrition service providers to assess the availability of Food is Medicine interventions and practices that facilitate connecting patients to Food is Medicine interventions in the State.
We will develop a strategy, which will include metrics to measure progress, to increase the availability of Food is Medicine interventions to meet the level of need throughout the state through replication, expansion, or scaling of successful programs and partnerships, initiation of new efforts, and identification of sustainable funding sources and models.
*Survey is now closed*
Take Our Survey: Our surveys will be going out to health providers, insurers, and food and nutrition service providers at the start of 2018. If your organization falls into one of these categories, please make sure to submit a survey response.
Attend Regional Listening Sessions: We will be hosting a series of regional listening sessions throughout the state in the spring/summer of 2018 to hear more about the best practices and challenges you are experiencing in your region as you try to improve access to healthy, medically-appropriate food.
*If you were unable to attend a listening session, you can still share your thoughts with us via email here.*
About the Organizers
The Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Community Servings, a Boston-based not-for-profit food and nutrition program, have worked with local and national partners for five years to develop the evidence and policy base for integrating Food is Medicine interventions into health care delivery and financing.
The Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan initiative is made possible through the generous support of our funders, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and DentaQuest Foundation.