NEW YORK | January 31, 2024 ― The Rockefeller Foundation announced that it will invest an additional USD $80 million over the next five years to advance Food is Medicine programs in the United States. Today’s announcement, which increases The Rockefeller Foundation’s total Food is Medicine commitment to more than $100 million since 2019, aims to improve domestic health outcomes where diet-related diseases, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are a principal driver of deaths, disability, and health care costs. It also marks the start of a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accelerate the adoption of Food is Medicine in health systems.
“For far too long, patients with diet-related diseases have faced barriers when trying to access the nutritious foods that can help them live healthier, fuller lives,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Making Food is Medicine interventions a central part of routine health care can transform those lives as well as American health care, making it both more affordable and better able to prevent, manage, and treat such diseases.”
In the United States, vulnerable groups – communities of color, rural communities, veterans, seniors, and low-income households – suffer disproportionately from diet-related disease and food insecurity and are burdened with higher health care expenditures. Chronic diseases – the vast majority of which are diet-related – account for 90%, or $3.8 trillion, of the nation’s annual health care budget. Despite staggering health impacts and associated costs, the U.S. health care system has few formal programs that work to help patients improve their diets.
Food is Medicine programs in communities around the country have demonstrated promise to address both outcomes. According to recent research from the American Heart Association, these programs have increased patients’ access to healthy foods, improved individual health outcomes, and reduced health care utilization and costs. More research, including more rigorous studies and evaluations of existing programs, is needed to fully understand and harness the power and potential of these programs.
A large portion of the $80 million announced today will support research on the health and economic outcomes of Food is Medicine programs in diverse populations across the United States in collaboration with the American Heart Association’s Health Care by Food TM initiative, a multi-year effort to identify effective Food is Medicine approaches for incorporating healthy food into health care. The American Heart Association announced the first 19 Food is Medicine research projects on January 24, 2024.
“The health care system needs evidence-informed tools and solutions to address root causes of diet-related disease and ultimately save lives,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the American Heart Association is proud to work with researchers, practitioners, health care providers and patients to build a world-class Food Is Medicine research, advocacy, and education initiative.”
Beyond its collaboration with the American Heart Association, The Rockefeller Foundation plans to invest in public, private, and non-profit organizations and collaborations to enhance and bolster Food is Medicine programs in several ways:
- Building better infrastructure to support the growth of a diverse, thriving ecosystem of Food is Medicine for-profit and not-for-profit suppliers, operators, and practitioners in every region of the country.
- Educating for better policies to accelerate action and build coalitions to create demand for an expansion of Food Is Medicine interventions, especially for high-need populations.
- Improving access to accurate information about Food is Medicine interventions reaches those who stand to benefit most.
“There is no time to waste for unlocking Food is Medicine’s great potential to advance health equity by improving nutrition security,” said Devon Klatell, Vice President for Food, The Rockefeller Foundation. “The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support individuals, communities, and the broader health and nutrition sectors to better understand this powerful tool and get it to those who stand to benefit from it most as quickly as possible. Together, we can improve health for Americans and others around the world.”
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We make big bets to promote the well-being of humanity. Today, we are focused on advancing human opportunity and reversing the climate crisis by transforming systems in food, health, energy, and finance. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on X @RockefellerFdn.
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