US Food is Medicine programme boosted by philanthropic funds
America’s largest hunger-relief organisation, Feeding America, has announced that it is to receive a significant contribution to its cause, courtesy of the Anthem Foundation.
The firm has confirmed that a $1 million grant from the Anthem Foundation will help expand their ‘Food is Medicine’ programme—an effort in which healthcare staff conduct universal food insecurity screenings and partner with food banks to implement interventions.
Commenting on the important work of the programme, Hilary Seligman MD, senior medical advisor at Feeding America, said:
“The ‘Food is Medicine’ programme underscores the positive impact food bank-healthcare partnerships have in communities facing hunger and other social determinants of health. This initiative helps reduce some of the barriers that patients may face in accessing nutritious foods.
“We are grateful to the Anthem Foundation for supporting strategies that help improve food security, diet quality and health outcomes for people in need.”
The ‘Food is Medicine’ programme funding will support 14 Feeding America member food banks as they collaborate with healthcare partners to screen patients for food insecurity during outpatient visits. Healthcare partners will then connect patients who screen positive for food insecurity to food assistance resources onsite at healthcare facilities, and at community-based food pantries and meal programmes.
The far-reaching Covid fallout
Feeding America projects that approximately 42 million people, including 13 million children, could experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19. People living in food-insecure households are more likely to experience poor health across their lifespan and are at increased risk of illness and poor chronic disease management.
“We have long championed for better access to nutritious foods in the communities we serve – understanding the integral link between healthy food options and its impact on overall health,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, Chief Health Officer, Anthem, Inc. “This unique partnership will continue to allow clinical staff to conduct universal food insecurity screenings and interventions, which screened more than 91,000 patients in the inaugural ‘Food is Medicine’ programme. As food insecurity continues to affect our communities, we remain committed to removing barriers and creat[ing] sustainable change through bold action and collaboration with partners across the health ecosystem.”
Feeding America member food banks will also leverage funding from the Anthem Foundation to help eligible patients enroll into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Additionally, the grant will strengthen existing partnerships for seven food banks and their affiliated healthcare partners that participated in the first round of the ‘Food is Medicine’ programme. The healthcare partners participating in this programme aim to screen 100,000 patients for food insecurity in 2021.