Good food is the foundation of good health. But for far too many Americans affordable, nutritious food is out of reach. The negative effects of this are evident: Chronic diet-related diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, are among the leading causes of death in the United States – especially in BIPOC and low-income communities. Our national health care ‘bill’ for diet-related diseases – $1.1 trillion – is equal to all the money we currently pay for the food itself.
of American adults are living with obesity, which increases their risk of health problems including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes [Tufts]
people around the world can’t afford a healthy diet
deaths are caused by poor diets in the U.S. yearly
At The Rockefeller Foundation, we’re leading a movement to integrate food and nutrition into health care to help fight the growing epidemic of diet-related diseases.
While poor diets are a leading cause of poor health and even death in America, nutrition is largely missing from the health care system. Food is Medicine programs, like produce prescriptions and medically tailored meals or groceries, use healthy, food-based interventions to help prevent, manage, and treat chronic diet-related diseases.
Integrating nutrition into our health care system means doctors could prescribe fruits and vegetables or healthy meals as easily as other medications and reduce the need for expensive and invasive health services, like visits to the ER or hospital admissions. Integrating healthy food into the healthcare system can help more Americans thrive and bring down the nation’s immense healthcare costs.
The Rockefeller Foundation supports equitable and community-directed approaches to advancing Food is Medicine. We build partnerships with payers, providers, and community groups to bridge the gaps between food and healthcare delivery.
Food is Medicine programs can lead to better health outcomes for people and save millions of dollars in health care costs. Our goal is to ensure all eligible patients can access these programs as a covered and reimbursable benefit of health care delivery.
low-income Americans through Medicaid and Medicare we aim to make Food is Medicine programs available for
public dollars have been committed to date to run Food as Medicine programs
are currently enrolled in The Rockefeller Foundation grantee-run Produce prescription programs
Building the Evidence BaseEarly research shows the promise of these programs. Studies from Tufts University, Duke University, and the University of Texas, supported by The Foundation, represent the largest collection of findings to date on the effectiveness of Produce Rx programs. To help the health sector design large scale programs, we are working with partners including the American Heart Association, Kroger and the University of Utah to learn more about the potential health impacts and cost savings.
Advancing PoliciesWe are working with partners including Harvard University Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, The Health Initiative, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Wholesome Wave to advocate for policies that support healthy food as a covered benefit and engage in dialogues that spur a collaborative vision to achieve this goal across government agencies.
Removing Barriers to EquityTo ensure these programs reach their full potential, we work with partners including About Fresh, Adelante Mujeres, and Deep Medicine Circle on removing bottlenecks for success. This includes ensuring racial equity is embedded by empowering BIPOC communities to lead Produce Rx programs and supporting insurance payers to expand demonstration projects to reach more diverse populations.