Elevance Health Foundation’s $14 million grant to Feeding America®’s Food as Medicine program helps address a key social driver of health: food insecurity. Results of the program show that access to nutritious food goes beyond just satisfying hunger to providing a foundation for good health.
Components of the Food as Medicine Program
Feeding America’s Food as Medicine program increases access to nutritious foods by helping people across the country access public food programs.
Nutritious foods are an important part of bolstering the whole health of a community. Food insecurity, which affects more than 44 million people in the United States, increases the risk for diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Through the program, people diagnosed with a diet-related disease can leave a medical appointment knowing how to incorporate nutritious foods into their diet. They will also receive referrals to community-based food pantries and meal services to access these nutritious foods.
In addition to food distribution, the Food as Medicine program also screens people for public food programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and helps them enroll if they qualify.
Initial Results are Promising
From April 1 through June 30, 2023, the 21 Feeding America food banks* participating in the program:
- Screened more than 64,000 people for food insecurity
- Determined more than 18,000 (28%) were experiencing food insecurity
- Referred nearly 11,000 to a Food as Medicine Program, with just under 10,000 receiving food from the program
- Referred more than 1,400 to apply for SNAP benefits, with 725 applications started and 328 completed
“This program is transforming the charitable food experience for neighbors and the health care system, while promoting the well-being of people facing hunger,” said Mark Stephens, executive vice president of innovation at Feeding America. “This initiative enables people with chronic diseases to have access to nutritious food that facilitates better health.”
Strong Partnership Leads to Creative Solutions
“Elevance Health Foundation believes that food is medicine and through consistent access to nutritious food, we can improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, chief health officer of Elevance Health. “As the largest grant in our Foundation history, Feeding America will be able to continue the ‘Food as Medicine’ program, leading us to have a better understanding of how food – as medicine – impacts clinical outcomes among people at risk of or experiencing a diet-related health condition, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.”
Elevance Health Foundation has provided $27 million in food as medicine grants to improve health outcomes by increasing access to nutritious foods. Working in partnership with proven community leaders like Feeding America can help reduce barriers to good health by addressing health-related social needs of people and communities, including reducing food insecurity. Elevance Health will continue to seek out this kind of creative, effective partnership to address physical, behavioral, and social drivers of health.
*Elevance Health Foundation data as of August 2023.