Food and nutrition security

Supporting access to nutritious food for healthy communities

Food and nutrition security

Supporting access to nutritious food for healthy communities

More than 34 million Americans lack regular access to enough food for an active and healthy life. Lacking access to nutritious food has been shown to lead to poor health, including higher rates of chronic disease. The rates are even higher among people with low incomes and people of color. Even individuals who have enough to eat may not have consistent, affordable access to healthy food.

At Kaiser Permanente, we’ve committed to providing $50 million by 2030 to support programs that increase food and nutrition security and improve health outcomes for the country’s most vulnerable populations. This commitment coincides with our participation in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health alongside other national leaders to create a strategy to address the food- and diet-related challenges Americans continue to face.

34 million

Americans lack regular access to enough food for an active and healthy life.

We also help the communities we serve by enrolling members in food assistance programs. We are creating community partnerships, funding new research, and developing ways to increase access to nutritious food through our Food Is Medicine Center of Excellence.

Our approach to this work serves as a strong model to inform national policy recommendations. For example, we’ve worked to increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. We set up a national text-based outreach campaign to Kaiser Permanente members who may be eligible for this program. These efforts have helped over 123,000 people apply for the program.

We’ve tested an effort to support member enrollment and retention in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. We have shared goals of supporting healthy pregnancies, promoting breastfeeding, and encouraging healthy eating.

We’ve piloted interventions using medically tailored meals to help people recover at home. And we launched a prescription produce program, known as Produce Rx, to help patients who have diabetes get fresh produce. By studying the effectiveness of these programs, Kaiser Permanente is building an evidence base for future policy interventions that reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes.

Our policy work is guided by our belief that access to nutritious food plays a critical role in supporting whole person health. For decades, Kaiser Permanente has been a leader in pioneering policies that help prevent obesity and improve community health.

To ensure communities have reliable access to healthy food, Kaiser Permanente supports policies that:

  • Minimize barriers to and maximize enrollment in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as SNAP and WIC
  • Support research, analysis, and education efforts to ensure SNAP sustainability and increased coordination between state and federal agencies
  • Support healthy food procurement in our cities and counties, collaborating with CityHealth (a network of urgent care centers, primary care providers, specialist practices, and testing centers) to help local leaders develop policies that make healthy food and beverage options available in city-owned or controlled places such as parks, sports arenas, city buildings, airports, and public hospitals
  • Support federal nutrition standards for school meals, and educate policymakers on the importance of adding goals to the SNAP program that provide nutrition security and combat diet-related chronic illness

Kaiser Permanente opposes policy proposals that:

  • Attach work requirements to SNAP and other food and nutrition assistance benefits, as this causes barriers to enrollment.
  • Create burdens to enrollment in public programs that support access to nutritious food, as this harms vulnerable individuals and families