Today, Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, announced a $14.1 million investment from the Elevance Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health, Inc., to continue the ‘Food as Medicine’ program through 2025. This phase of the program will help over 20 Feeding America member food banks and health care partners implement enhanced data collection, sharing and analysis to better understand the needs of people facing hunger and deliver effective solutions.
“Nearly 34 million people, including 9 million children, are food insecure in America,” said Mark Stephens, executive vice president of innovation at Feeding America. “As we embark on the third phase of the ‘Food as Medicine’ program, we continue to fortify our evaluation efforts to better understand how we can help neighbors improve health outcomes, while preserving their privacy and ensuring every person has a dignified and seamless experience based on their unique needs. This program is transforming the charitable food experience for neighbors and the health care system, while promoting the well-being of people facing hunger. This initiative enables people with chronic diseases to have access to nutritious food that facilitates better health.”
Food security and health are inextricably linked. The lack of access to nutritious foods can have serious, long-term effects on health and well-being, and it can make managing existing chronic conditions more difficult for people facing hunger.1 The ‘Food as Medicine’ program will support Feeding America member food banks as they collaborate with health care partners to screen patients for food insecurity during health care visits. Health care partners will then connect patients who screen positive for food insecurity to food assistance resources onsite at health care facilities and at community-based food pantries and meal programs.
The program will provide food banks and health care partners with data collection capabilities that will help identify learnings and best practices to enable positive health outcomes in participants. Food banks and health care partners will leverage the data, while protecting patients’ privacy, for organizational strategy, operations and program development to best support neighbors with chronic health conditions, who also are experiencing food insecurity. Additionally, the ‘Food as Medicine’ program will offer new food distribution options and enroll more participants into public benefits programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
‘Food as Medicine’ will strengthen existing partnerships for 14 member food banks and their affiliated health care partners that participated in the first two phases of the program. Participating health care partners aim to screen 900,000 patients for food insecurity during the three-year partnership.
“The Elevance Health Foundation believes that food is medicine and through consistent access to nutritious food, we can improve health outcomes,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer of Elevance Health. “As the largest grant in our Foundation history, Feeding America will be able to continue its ‘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 suffering from a diet-related health condition, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.”
Since 2004, the Elevance Health Foundation has supported hunger-relief efforts at food banks across the country and provided funding to Feeding America for the first two phases of the ‘Food as Medicine’ program. This latest three-year partnership represents Elevance Health Foundation’s sustained investment in supporting food bank and health care partnerships and addressing the intersections of food insecurity and health. The grant is part of the Foundation’s commitment of up to $30 million over the next three years toward programs that advance health equity and encourage food as medicine.
 “Causes and Consequences of Food Insecurity.” Hunger and Health, 5 May 2022, https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/hunger-health-101/.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
About Elevance Health Foundation
Elevance Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health, Inc. The Foundation works to advance health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; substance use disorder; and food as medicine. Through its key areas of focus, the Foundation also strategically aligns with Elevance Health’s focus on community health and becoming a lifetime, trusted health partner that is fueled by its purpose to improve the health of humanity. To learn more about Elevance Health Foundation, please visit www.elevancehealth.foundation or follow us @ElevanceFND on Twitter and Elevance Health Foundation on Facebook.