UK-based organization takes aim at ending food insecurity

Published 6:03 am Friday, May 5, 2023

BY TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

A new organization, based at the University of Kentucky, has begun to lay the groundwork for how to reduce food insecurity and improve diet-sensitive health outcomes across the state.

The Food as Health Alliance, located at UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, says they seek to integrate partnerships between clinic, community, academic, and industry, to create a statewide approach to delivery, evaluation, and technical assistance for food as medicine programs.

Their formal launch included the announcement of a $200,000 contribution from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, which will fund four upcoming research pilot projects in both urban and rural communities.

The four pilot programs will partner with industry, non-profit, and clinical groups to understand the most cost-effective and clinically meaningful food delivery program, such as grocery prescription or medically tailored meals.  Clinical outcomes will be measured along with impacts on healthcare costs among food insecure adults who are experiencing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and gestational diabetes.

“I am so moved by the array of individuals and organizations across our state that are devoted to reducing food insecurity and improving the health of our residents,” said UK’s Alison Gustafson, who is serving as director of the Food as Health Alliance.

Although they have just formally begun their work, the Alliance says they have already had several accomplishments since having a soft launch in January.  These include the development of a website and social media accounts, production of 10 nutrition focused cooking videos, the release of internal grant funding, and plans for clinician training videos.

In March, it was announced that leading grocery technology company Instacart will partner with the Alliance to analyze the benefits of using food as medicine.  The Grocery Prescription Program will utilize the Instacart Fresh Funds Program to provide participants $50 each week to purchase eligible food items meeting Diabetes Plate or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension requirements.

To learn more about the Alliance, go to foodashealthalliance.ca.uky.edu.