Nourish People and Planet

Food is Medicine

Integrating healthy food into the health care system to help more Americans thrive

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.

United States
  • 42%

    of American adults are living with obesity, which increases their risk of health problems including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes [Tufts]

  • >3billion

    people around the world can’t afford a healthy diet

  • 500,000

    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.

President Biden highlights The Rockefeller Foundation's commitment with the American Heart association and Kroger to expand #FoodIsMedicine research to help scale critical solutions as a part of the health care system.

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.

Our Goals

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.

View of a garden.

  • 30million

    low-income Americans through Medicaid and Medicare we aim to make Food is Medicine programs available for

  • $197million

    public dollars have been committed to date to run Food as Medicine programs

  • 28,000people

    are currently enrolled in The Rockefeller Foundation grantee-run Produce prescription programs

  • We know healthy food is medicine, but too few have access to it. We need to unite partners across the food and health sectors to help bring good food – and better health outcomes – to millions of people across the country.
    Devon Klatell
    Vice President, Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation