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Massachusetts food is medicine state Plan

Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan Planning Council Serves up Official Launch to Expand Nutrition Interventions for Vulnerable Populations Across the Commonwealth

On October 30th, the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan Planning Council kicked off the official launch of its work to help reduce the cost of care, expand access to nutrition, and improve health among vulnerable populations by advancing the Massachusetts Food is Medicine (FIM) State Plan.

The FIM State Plan Project is led by the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation (CHLPI)of Harvard Law School and Community Servings, a non-profit leader in nutritional healing. The Project seeks to accomplish several critical goals over the next year in order to move the FIM work forward, which include:

  1. Identifying areas of need for FIM services;

  2. Assessing access to FIM services in Massachusetts;

  3. Publishing a report on the status of FIM need, access, and recommendations for FIM expansion.

To accomplish these goals, FIM Project leaders are embarking upon a multi-pronged approach to engage stakeholders, gather high-quality data, and develop a blueprint for concrete policy solutions. This blueprint will be adopted as the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan and used to scale up FIM services throughout the Commonwealth.

Key knowledge, insights, and advisement to the Project are provided by the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan Planning Council; a diverse, interprofessional coalition of health care providers, community-based agencies, insurers, and professional, academic, and policy organizations. The Council’s membership includes representatives from across the distinct geographic regions of Massachusetts. These members steward dozens of local and statewide organizations and provide interdisciplinary activities in health policy, research, clinical practice, human services, and community action. During the inaugural meeting, members convened for the first time to discuss strategies and identify steps for operationalizing this year’s FIM goals.

After the kick-off meeting, several Planning Council members presented at the 5th Annual Food is Medicine Symposium, held at Wasserstein Hall on Harvard Law School’s campus. Both Dr. Kathryn Brodowski, Senior Director of Health & Research at the Greater Boston Food Bank, and Sue Joss, CEO of Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, emphasized in their talks the vital importance of relationships among health care providers, communities, and businesses to address nutritional needs. Browdowski cited innovative clinical partnerships to achieve better patient outcomes, while Joss highlighted the advancements her clinic has made since co-locating with Vincente’s local family-owned grocery, which provides culturally and socially competent food products and services to residents.

For updates on the Massachusetts Food is Medicine State Plan and opportunities to provide feedback, visit the FIM State Plan page on CHLPI’s website, check back here for updates on our blog, and sign up for the FIM State Plan email list here or by contacting Katie Garfield, Staff Attorney and Planning Council Co-Leader, at kgarfield@law.harvard.edu


New Report on HIPAA and Food Banks Mentioned in The New Food Economy

On March 30, 2017, The New Food Economy published the article “As Veggie Prescriptions Gain Traction, Food Banks Prepare to Personalize Nutrition—and Protect Privacy,” which references multiple reports from CHLPI’s Food is Medicine initiative.

The article, written by Claire Brown, looks at the importance of including healthy food in treatments to combat and control type 2 diabetes and obesity, and the role food banks can play in cooperation with hospitals and health care providers. The article also describes CHLPI’s latest report, “Food Banks as Partners in Health Promotion: How HIPAA and Concerns About Protecting Information Affect Your Partnership,” as “a roadmap for getting healthy food to the people who need it without compromising their privacy.”

Excerpt from article:

“Still, doctors have been “prescribing” fruits and vegetables since at least 2013. In some cases, that looks like coupons for the farmers’ market outside the hospital. At least one health insurance company arms its customers with digital coupons that incentivize healthy purchasing. Some of these initiatives seem like lip service, sure. But there’s evidence of a paradigm shift in health care—one that means a “Veggie Rx” might soon mean a lot more.”

Read the full article “As Veggie Prescriptions Gain Traction, Food Banks Prepare to Personalize Nutrition—and Protect Privacy.”