Food & Health Policy

Engaging healthcare and policy leaders to change the way America feeds the sick.

The Need for Medically Tailored Meals

We believe that food is powerful medicine. Malnutrition is a costly, prevalent problem for the healthcare system and studies show that access to nutritious meals improves health outcomes, lowers healthcare costs, and improves the quality of patient care.

MALNOURISHMENT

At least 1 in 3 patients enters the hospital malnourished.

HEALTHCARE COST

Healthcare costs for malnourished patients are up to 3x higher than costs for properly nourished patients.

LENGTH OF HOSPITAL STAY

Hospital stays for malnourished patients are up to 3x longer than for properly nourished patients.

Medically tailored, home-delivered meals are a low-cost, high-value service for severely ill patients which is why we advocate for the integration of medically tailored meals and supportive nutrition services into public and private healthcare models.

Partnering with Healthcare Providers & Payers

As a HIPAA compliant program, we have partnered with innovative healthcare payers since 2014. We are contracted to provide medically tailored meals to individuals enrolled in Managed Care programs, Senior Care Options and One Care plans, programs within Accountable Care Organizations, and pilot programs for individuals who receive clinical services within home-base settings – all serving high-cost, high-needs patients.

Research

We measure the return on investment for the provision of medically tailored meals through healthcare payment models. Data from our research projects is instrumental in building the evidence base and furthering our work and that of the broader Food is Medicine field.

EVALUATING THE FOOD IS MEDICINE APPROACH ON HEALTH 

The rigorous study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evidence for Action program, utilized Massachusetts’ insurance claims database and found that participation in a medically tailored meals program was associated with fewer hospital admissions and nursing home admissions, and less overall medical spending. The study team was led by Dr. Seth A. Berkowitz, a physician and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, N.C. Community Servings collaborated with researchers at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. Results of this study were published in the April 2019 issue of the journal JAMA – Internal AffairsLearn more about the study and results.

THE ROOT CAUSE COALITION’S STATUS OF HEALTH EQUITY REPORT 

Community Servings is proud to have contributed to The Root Cause Coalition’s Status of Health Equity Report, examining both the progress — and the gaps — in addressing the health disparities and socioeconomic factors influencing individual and community health and well-being. The report includes the Actionable Strategies that can be implemented by organizations and communities across the country, and also provides examples of the extraordinary work being undertaken nationally, regionally and locally by the Coalition’s members in an effort to address the root causes that affect health and well-being.

To download a PDF of the full report, click here.

EVALUATING IMPACT OF MEDICALLY TAILORED MEALS PROVIDED THROUGH HEALTH INSURANCE 

Our health insurance claims data study, evaluating the impact of medically tailored meals provided through health insurance, was funded by AARP Foundation and undertaken in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Commonwealth Care Alliance. The study looked at healthcare claims data of CCA patients who received our medically tailored meals compared against control groups with similar demographics, and demonstrated a 16% net reduction in average monthly healthcare costs for patients who received Community Servings’ meals. The study was published in the April 2018 issue of the journal Health Affairs. Learn more about the study and the results.

“I WAS ABLE TO EAT WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO EAT”– PATIENT REFLECTIONS ON A MEDICALLY-TAILORED MEAL INTERVENTION: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS

This study published in the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders demonstrated that medically-tailored meal delivery programs are a promising approach to managing a difficult clinical problem— how to improve health in those with both diabetes and food insecurity. Our medically-tailored meal program offers the potential to improve not only clinical outcomes for patients with diabetes, but also quality of life and disease management, and reductions in stress.

Participant quote – “So what I’ll tell you was when I started my [A1C] level was so high. And when I started this program they had to teach me how much food I have to eat and all the protein I have to get. And then through the program my A1C went down. And my PCP, they tell me everything that was perfect and that she’s so happy, and I’m so happy right now I know how I have to eat.”

Themes identified in this study can be incorporated in future interventions to help improve health in vulnerable individuals with diabetes. Click here to learn more about this study and read patient reflections on their participation.

IMPACT OF MEDICALLY TAILORED MEALS ON FOOD INSECURE PATIENTS 

Our medically tailored meals for diabetic patients with food insecurity study, examining whether our meal intervention changed diabetic patients’ diet in a way that showed improved health, was published in the Journal for General Internal Medicine. The study was funded by BCBS of MA and BNY Mellon. Results showed that diabetic patients who received our medically tailored meals ate more vegetables, fruits, & whole grains, & decreased their consumption of fats & added sugars. Read the study abstract.

Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan

Recognizing the value of Food is Medicine interventions among the nutritionally vulnerable, Community Servings has partnered with The Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School to launch the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan. The plan, funded in part by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, aims to increase access to medically tailored Food is Medicine interventions across the state by convening healthcare providers, payers, and policy leaders and conducting cutting-edge research over the next year. Learn more.

National Advocacy

Community Servings serves as a member of the Food is Medicine Coalition, a coalition of nonprofit, medically tailored food and nutrition services providers from across the country. The goal of the Food is Medicine Coalition (FIMC) is to advocate for public policy that supports access to food and nutrition services for people with critical and chronic illnesses. Learn more about the FIMC and how to get involved.

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