LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / November 8, 2019 / The clear linkage between good health and access to healthy food should drive every part of the health care system toward action to improve food security across the country. Dr. Cynthia Telles, chair of the community health committee of the board of Kaiser Permanente, is proud to join the announcement that the health care organization has launched Food for Life, a major new initiative to increase food security on a national scale.
"Healthy eating is foundational for good health," said Telles. "That's why we believe so strongly that part of Kaiser Permanente's mission to improve our members' and communities' health requires taking on the challenge of food security in America."
Food for Life is a comprehensive program with a goal of evolving the economic, social, and even policy environments connected to food so that people across the nation have access to, and can afford, healthy food. Through this new initiative, Kaiser Permanente will design and assess options for medically tailored meal delivery, which can be necessary to help patients with medication management, allergies, or with health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease. Kaiser Permanente will provide in-home meal services for entire households, rather than limiting the service to only patients. Then it will assess whether this step creates additional benefits for patients, including improved dietary adherence and reduced medical costs.
Studies show that food insecurity complicates patients' ability to manage their illness, increases risks for poor health outcomes, and is linked to higher health care costs. This new research demonstrates that people without regular access to adequate food spend about 45% more on their medical care than people who aren't challenged by food insecurity.
As another initial Food for Life initiative, Kaiser Permanente has begun a broadscale texting campaign to connect eligible California residents with CalFresh (the state's supplemental nutrition assistance program, formerly known as food stamps). Over the next 6 months, the Food for Life texting campaign will reach more than 600,000 Kaiser Permanente member households in California, and will help those who are eligible apply for CalFresh benefits.
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, California has one of the nation's lowest levels of participation in the food stamp program. And yet, Telles notes that Kaiser Permanente's Social Needs in America survey, 40% of Californians surveyed have experienced stress about their food needs in the past year.
After evaluating the impact of these California-specific initiatives, Kaiser Permanente plans to expand Food for Life programs to members and communities across the United States.
Dr. Cynthia Telles serves as chair of the Community Health Committee for Kaiser Permanente and Director of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence.
For more information, please reach out to John Nelson at [email protected].
SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente