The Rockefeller Foundation Invests $4.6 Million To Scale Food Is Medicine Initiatives in U.S.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Rockefeller Foundation Invests $4.6 Million To Scale Food Is Medicine Initiatives in U.S.

Grants will help prevent, manage, and treat diet-related illnesses among food-insecure Americans

NEW YORK | November 30, 2022 ―The Rockefeller Foundation has committed $4.6 million in grants for equitable and community-directed approaches to prevent, manage, and treat diet-related illnesses in the United States. The funding will support grantees advancing Food is Medicine interventions focused on building partnerships with key stakeholders and bridging the gaps between food and health care. The goal of this investment is to help the millions of patients facing food insecurity or diet-related diseases gain more equitable access to foods that promote better health outcomes and reduce health costs.

“We know healthy food is medicine, that patients in study after study benefit from it; but we also know that too few in the United States have access to this sort of food,” said Devon Klatell, Vice President, Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “That’s why we’re investing in a food system that prioritizes nutrition, bringing partners together across the food and health sectors, and promoting data-driven policies to help bring good food – and better health outcomes – to millions of people across the country.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are nearly 34 million people facing food insecurity in America. Chronic and diet-related illnesses, which include cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death in the United States, disproportionately affecting BIPOC and low-income communities. In addition, while U.S. consumers paid an estimated $1.1 trillion for food in 2019, this does not include another $604 billion in health care costs directly attributable to diet-related diseases, according to The Rockefeller Foundation’s True Cost of Food report.

Recent research from Tufts University, Duke University, and the University of Texas, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, represents the largest collection of findings to date on the effectiveness of produce prescription programs and their positive physical and mental impacts on participants and communities. These programs led to improvements in self-reported health status, fruit and vegetable intake, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels; as well as in rates of food security. Across the board, participants, clinical staff, and community members expressed support for expanding produce prescription programs within healthcare settings. The findings from this research suggest that wider Food is Medicine programs can improve health outcomes and garner savings.

“Even as diet-related diseases continue to heavily burden communities across the U.S., today’s health care system places minimal emphasis on food and nutrition,” said Diana Johnson, Program Officer, Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Food is Medicine programs, ranging from medically tailored meals to produce prescription programs, are widely recognized as powerful interventions, but currently only reach a fraction of those who could benefit. We urgently need investment in these programs that will improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs nationwide.”

To further unlock the potential of Food is Medicine, The Rockefeller Foundation is investing in three key areas: (1) building high-quality evidence through research; (2) promoting policies that support the integration of nutrition incentives into health care; and (3) improving infrastructure needed to remove bottlenecks and deliver programs to those most in need...

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