Food is Medicine

About 85% of all health care spending is related to the management of diet-related chronic diseases

Food is Medicine (FIM) interventions can be considered as a spectrum of programs and services that respond to the critical link between nutrition and health, integrated into healthcare delivery. Examples include programs that provide nutritionally-appropriate food, for free or at a discount to individuals, to support disease management, disease prevention, or optimal health as part of the health care system as a component of an individual’s treatment plan.

We envision a future where FIM programs such as medically tailored meals (MTM), medically tailored groceries, and produce prescription programs are covered benefits for targeted populations in Medicare and Medicaid. FIM interventions have documented significant improvements in health outcomes and healthcare utilization, with evidence for cost-effectiveness and even net cost savings in some circumstances. These programs have rapidly gained interest among health care providers, health systems, payers, and patients as potential tools to improve clinical care for diet-related illness, especially for patients experiencing food and nutrition insecurity. 

Food is Medicine: Dietary and Policy Priorities for Cardiometabolic Health

Our current goals in this area include:

  • Piloting coverage of MTM in Medicare 
  • Testing Medicaid coverage of nutrition education and other nutrition supports using Medicaid section 1115 demonstration projects
  • Increasing access to nutrition-related services through private insurance programs
  • Supporting states in leveraging all available federal authorities to expand coverage of Food is Medicine interventions
  • Support efforts to increase nutrition education for physicians
  • Increasing patient access to registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) counseling for obesity and other diet-related conditions (for both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries)
  • Promoting the integration of food and nutrition security screening into the electronic health record

Tufts University is a leading institution in Food is Medicine research and advocacy. To learn more about our work in this area, visit our Food is Medicine website.

Each year in the U.S., an estimated $13.6 billion would be saved if all eligible Americans received medically-tailored meal interventions in the healthcare system.

Food is Medicine Announcements

HHS Food is Medicine Summit

On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) partnered with the Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs to host the first-ever HHS Food is Medicine summit in Washington, D.C., an all-day event for policymakers, advocates, researchers, and a wide variety of stakeholders with equities in the Food is Medicine space to engage in a substantive conversation about why food is medicine is important, what actions are being taken to advance...

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Food is Medicine Articles

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