More than 38 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, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart 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 help the communities we serve access nutritious food by enrolling members in food assistance programs, developing interventions that increase access to nutritious food, forging community partnerships, and funding new research. Our approach to this work serves as a strong model to inform our recommendations for policies that can improve dependable access to nutritious food nationally.
For example, in 2020, Kaiser Permanente took action to increase enrollment in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Using a national text-based outreach campaign to our members, we helped 95,000 people apply for the program. We also established innovative partnerships between health care systems and the public sector that identify families who may be eligible for SNAP to encourage enrollment.
We’ve piloted interventions using medically tailored meals to help people recuperate better at home, and partnered with Produce Rx, to help patients who have diabetes access fresh produce. By studying how these programs work and under what conditions they are successful, Kaiser Permanente is building an evidence base for future policy interventions that reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes.
Within our communities, Kaiser Permanente has been pioneering policies for decades that help prevent obesity. Through this work alongside key partners, we gained critical insights into the policies that work. Now we provide support for CityHealth, an initiative that shares effective policy solutions with local leaders.
To ensure communities have reliable access to healthy food, Kaiser Permanente supports policies that:
Kaiser Permanente opposes policy proposals that: