Food Rx Improves Health for At-Risk Community Members

Published on : 3/13/23
  • This story is a part of our A Better Tomorrow 2022 Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

    People living with chronic health issues can require frequent emergency room visits and multiple medications to manage their conditions. However, some healthcare professionals have begun embracing the idea of food as medicine, pursuing a more holistic approach to treatment that considers factors such as diet and lifestyle. Addressing these areas can improve patients’ health, decrease emergency room visits and even reduce or eliminate the need for medication.

    In 2021, MedStar Health launched Food Rx at its Collaborative Care Program clinic at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to support patients with chronic health issues. The clinic addresses food scarcity and insecurity and examines other social determinants of health. The comprehensive program provides free nutrition education, counseling and healthy meals, at no cost to participants.

    Patients begin by meeting with a Sodexo registered dietician for a one-on-one consultation. Food Rx is a six-month program that provides 10 meals each week for the patient and other household members. Patients also receive ongoing education regarding nutrition, cooking and exercise.  Patients typically have multiple doctors and must travel to see each one, creating transportation challenges. Food Rx brings together the healthcare professionals in one place to collaborate on patient care and achieve positive outcomes. Throughout the program, the dietician works with doctors to monitor patients’ health and adjust medications as needed.

    Within its first 10 months, Food Rx enrolled nearly 70 people and provided more than 5,400 meals.

    The program is so successful that MedStar Health began expansion efforts to a second location at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore.