September 28, 2022

Improving nutrition, reducing hunger, advancing health 

$50 million Food Is Medicine commitment by Kaiser Permanente advances health equity.

Contact: Hilary Costa

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit, integrated health care organization, is committing $50 million to bolster programs that increase food and nutrition security and improve health outcomes for the country’s most vulnerable populations. The contribution also supports significant collaboration between public and private entities to develop solutions for ending hunger and improving health and health equity.

This commitment coincides with Kaiser Permanente’s participation in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health alongside other national leaders in food and nutrition security to create a strategy to address the food- and diet-related challenges Americans continue to face.

“When people are hungry, or lack proper nutrition or equitable access to the food they require to address their most pressing medical needs, they are less likely to get or stay healthy,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. “This is a landmark opportunity to reimagine what the food and nutrition landscape can and should look like as part of a healthier, more equitable society.”

Kaiser Permanente’s multiyear commitment will support Food Is Medicine — a national movement linking nutrition, chronic illness, and the food services that help improve health outcomes. Kaiser Permanente will focus its efforts on 4 key areas:

  • Coordinating with publicly funded programs to support Kaiser Permanente members experiencing food and nutrition insecurity or diet-related diseases
  • Supporting the generation of evidence and accelerating the scaling and coverage of Food Is Medicine programs for targeted populations
  • Addressing food and nutrition insecurity through targeted community investments and coalition building to help more people
  • Accelerating partnerships between Kaiser Permanente and private businesses to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, prevent and treat diet-related disease, and improve health equity

The connection between having enough healthy food and an individual’s overall well-being is clear, with the wide-ranging chronic health complications of hunger driving the cost of health up $160 billion each year. Investing in social health needs such as access to healthy, affordable food and prevention and treatment for diet-related illness is central to Kaiser Permanente’s mission of improving the health of the communities it serves. 

“We know some health outcomes are tied to what we eat, and we must act collectively to ensure every American has access to affordable, nutritious food,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, which engaged with organizations around potential commitments being made in relation to the conference. “Kaiser Permanente’s plans show how a health care organization can play a critical role in preventing and treating diet-related disease for vulnerable populations.”

Between now and 2030, Kaiser Permanente’s $50 million commitment will support specific initiatives such as: screening more than 9 million Kaiser Permanente members for social health needs including food and nutrition security; expanding e-commerce solutions to increase healthy purchasing options for recipients of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) benefits; expanding Food Is Medicine programs including prescriptions for produce (“Produce Rx”) and medically tailored meals for patients recently hospitalized with diet-related diseases; and building strategic partnerships with innovative businesses including companies owned by underrepresented groups, small start-ups, and large-scale employers.

Kaiser Permanente has deep experience addressing food insecurity, treating diet-related diseases, and implementing Food Is Medicine programs.

The organization’s approach to transforming the economic, social, and policy environments connected to food has included millions of dollars in grants to organizations that improve food and nutrition security and help with SNAP food assistance applications for 100,000 of its members. In 2020 Kaiser Permanente launched 3 rigorous medically tailored meals research studies for recently discharged hospital patients who had chronic conditions. Through this research 2,100 patients have received more than 116,000 medically tailored meals as of August 2022.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.6 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.