Tag Archives: Community Servings

Community Servings and the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School host “Food as Medicine”

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Patients leaving the hospital are usually discharged with prescription medications. What they are too often missing is a prescription for the food they need to fight their illnesses – an overlooked aspect of care that is having a dramatic impact on patient care and costs.

On Thursday, October 30, 2014, the role of food in healthcare will be up for discussion during the second annual Food as Medicine Symposium, co-organized by Community Servings (a nonprofit organization that provides medically tailored home-delivered meals to individuals battling life-threatening illnesses) and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (that advocates for legal, regulatory, and policy reforms to expand access to high-quality healthcare and nutritious, affordable food; to reduce health disparities; and to promote more equitable and effective healthcare and food systems.)

The Symposium, which will take place at the Harvard Law School campus in honor of Food Day, offers an in-depth look at the critical role that nutritious, medically tailored meals and food play in outcome-driven, cost-effective healthcare. Panelists, representing various sectors of the healthcare industry, will speak about innovative new partnerships between food providers and health insurers in Massachusetts, cutting-edge research that demonstrates the efficacy of food as a medical intervention, and policy reform opportunities to further integrate healthy food into routine medical care.

In the continuing debate about how to control soaring healthcare costs, malnutrition and access to food is often ignored, despite its proven ability to decrease re-hospitalization rates, increase adherence to medication and improve energy levels and the overall quality of life for the patient. According to a recent survey by Feeding America, 66 percent of Americans must choose between paying for food or medicine.

Home delivered meals programs, particularly those that offer disease-tailored diets such as renal, diabetic or low sodium, have been incredibly successful. Not only do they provide the nutrients that these patients need to stay in treatment and recover faster, they relieve the individual of the overwhelming stress associated with grocery shopping and cooking for themselves and their families.

Just as important is the potential impact that food as medicine could have on costs. Providing individuals with nutritious meals at home costs about $20 a day, compared to an average Massachusetts hospital stay of up to $2,500 a day. One study estimates that the cost of treating nutrition-risk patients is 20 percent higher than treating a well-nourished patient with the same disease.

A major milestone was achieved earlier this year when The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School released a national report entitled Food is Medicine: Opportunities in Public and Private health Care for Supporting Nutritional Counseling and Medically Tailored, Home-Delivered Meals. The report presented a roadmap for the healthcare industry to better understand the idea of food as medicine. It also explored the ways in which public and private healthcare programs like Medicaid, Medicare and new marketplace health insurance plans can support access to nutritional counseling and medically tailored home-delivered meals.

To learn more about Community Servings, please visit http://www.servings.org/about/mission.cfm

The Food is Medicine report is available for download on the Center for Health Law and Policy

Innovation website at www.chlpi.org.

For more information regarding the Food as Medicine symposium or to register please visit: http://www.foodday.org/jterranova/second_annual_food_as_medicine_symposium

 

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Opportunities for Food Advocates in Health Care Initiatives

By Jean Terranova and David Waters

One week from tomorrow, the SNAP/Food Stamp benefit stimulus created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will end. This means that all SNAP recipients will see a reduction in their already meager benefits beginning November 1. With the proposed drastic cuts to SNAP looming in the erratic Farm Bill negotiations, anti-hunger advocates must explore alternative sources of funding to supplement the food resources of people in need.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

As the Affordable Care Act survived the showdown that brought the Government to its knees and states like Massachusetts are pioneering new models to improve health outcomes while decreasing health care spending, we believe the time is right for anti-hunger advocates to press for the inclusion of sustainable, healthy, affordable foods in the health care system. Studies show that food can be a low-cost means to keep people in their homes and communities, avoiding the need for exorbitant spending on emergency room visits, hospital stays, and nursing home admissions. A recent study estimated that if all states had increased by a mere one percent the number of adults age sixty-five or older who received home-delivered meals in 2009 under Title III of the Older Americans Act, annual savings to states’ Medicaid programs could have exceeded $109 million due to decreased spending on nursing home care. We believe this number would increase exponentially and have a major impact on our food system if these meals were to include high quality locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients.

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini

Here are three ways that you can join us and learn more about our campaign to advocate for the inclusion of food as prevention, treatment, and “medicine” for individuals with chronic disease and critical illnesses in health care reform initiatives:

Join the symposium we are co-hosting with Harvard’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, the Food Law Policy Clinic, and the Food Law Society on October 30;

Attend our session on “Food is medicine and prevention” at the American Public Health Association on November 5;

Contact us if you are interested in joining our Advocacy Committee.

David B. Waters, CEO, Community Servings

Jean Terranova, Director of Food and Health Policy, Community Servings

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Q and A With David Waters – @DBW356 – CEO of Community Servings – @communityserv

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Happy Food Day!  Congratulations on the recent Boston Business Journal (@BBJNewsroom) article about the expansion of Community Servings’ mission and geographic reach to Worcester.  Kudos as well for the 20th anniversary of Pie in the Sky.  Tell us about Community Servings and your involvement in the organization.

DW:  Thanks to the Food Day MA organizers for helping spread the word about Community Servings on Food Day!  I’ve been involved with the organization since its founding in 1989, and I’ve been the Executive Director/CEO since 1999.  A coalition of AIDS activists, faith groups, and community organizations founded Community Servings to provide home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS.  When we started we were feeding thirty people living with HIV/AIDS each week.  Today we prepare and deliver 7,500 lunches and dinners each week to the homes of almost 775 individuals and families throughout Massachusetts who are homebound with an acute life-threatening illness such as breast cancer, renal failure, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and diabetes, as well as HIV/AIDS.

Q:  What is “Medical Nutrition Therapy,” and how does Community Servings put the concept into practice for your clients here in Massachusetts?

DW:  Medical Nutrition Therapy is an approach to treating critical and chronic illnesses, offering nutritional counseling and medically tailored menus developed by our registered dietitian, delivered weekly to our clients homes.  We offer our clients 25 different diet combinations, including renal, diabetic, vegetarian and low Vitamin K, to address specific illnesses and side effects of medications.  By regularly eating nutritious foods that are tailored to their specific medical needs, our clients have the physical and emotional support they need to stick with their medical regimens and manage their illnesses.

Q:  When you say “Medical Nutrition Therapy” or “food as medicine,” I think “hospital food.” How are the meals Community Servings prepares different from what we think of as “hospital food.”

DW:  We partner with local farmers and fishermen, and grow our own herbs to ensure that the raw ingredients in our meals are wholesome, fresh, and visually appealing.  Our Executive Chef, Tim Williams, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has 35 years of culinary experience.  We feed our clients vibrant, culturally appropriate comfort foods, like chicken ratatouille during summer or Jamaican style shepherd’s pie in the fall.  We strive to make the food resonate with our clients on an emotional level, evoking “food memories” of the meals their grandmother served when they were children.

Q:  What actions can readers of this post take on this #FoodDayMA to support Community Servings programs?

DW:  We rely on volunteers for a wide range of activities, including preparing and packaging meals in our kitchen, delivering meals to our clients, and assisting with special events.  Corporate and student volunteers can sign up for our adopt-a-shift program, committing to helping our kitchen on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.  From February through April, college students take part in Alternative Spring Break (ASB), a national movement that promotes service in communities in need.  Finally you can buy a Thanksgiving pie to support Pie in the Sky, or you can simply make a donation.  Every $25 donated feeds a sick neighbor for a week!