Led by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Community Servings, the coalition launched the first inventory of Food is Medicine Services in the Commonwealth
More and more health care systems are working to acknowledge the critical role that food plays in shaping health outcomes and impacting health care costs. However, individual patients, health care providers, and payors often lack information on nutrition services that are available in their communities. Today, Food is Medicine Massachusetts (FIMMA), a multi-stakeholder coalition representing over 100 organizations, launched the first-ever Massachusetts Food is Medicine Service Inventory to fill this major information gap.
The new resource offers a catalogue of Massachusetts-based nonprofit organizations providing “Food is Medicine” services, including medically tailored meals, medically tailored food packages, nutritious food referrals, and community level healthy food programs. These services aim to improve health outcomes and are particularly important for populations disproportionately impacted by diet-related chronic conditions due to systemic inequities, including people with lower income, older adults, and BIPOC communities. With information on more than 60 organizations, the Inventory can both guide community members to nutrition supports and help build connections and partnerships between health care providers and Food is Medicine programs, ultimately expanding access to Food is Medicine services across the state.
“We know that Food is Medicine services are successfully connecting individuals to the food they need for optimal health, however organizations providing these services are often funded primarily by time-limited grants and gifts, making it difficult to ensure their sustainability,” said Katie Garfield, Director of Whole Person Care for the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI). “The Massachusetts Food is Medicine Service Inventory will serve as an important resource as health care providers and Food is Medicine service providers work to build long-term relationships to expand access to nutrition interventions.”
“As the only state-wide provider of medically tailored meals in Massachusetts, we have experienced tremendous demand for our services from the healthcare sector since the start of the pandemic,” said David B. Waters, CEO of Community Servings. “We view the Inventory as a critical tool for health care providers to refer patients to medically tailored meals and other essential nutrition services in the State. The Inventory is an important first step in building a sustainable infrastructure connecting the health system to community-based nutrition programs.”
FIMMA’s Massachusetts Food is Medicine Service Inventory was developed by CHLPI and Community Servings with funding provided by the Point32Health Foundation. The Inventory project began following the launch of the 2019 Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan, which identified the need for platforms that provide easy access to detailed information on Massachusetts Food is Medicine services. On March 29 at 1:00PM, CHLPI and Community Servings will host a free webinar to explore the Inventory and the opportunities it creates for individuals and organizations across Massachusetts. Click here to register for the event.