Meal-based Partnership Aims to Reduce Risks for Pregnant Women in D.C.

- February 13, 2019

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Abigail Seiler, Food & Friends
(202) 269-6875, aseiler@foodandfriends.org

Meal-based Partnership Aims to Reduce Risks for Pregnant Women in D.C.

Food & Friends Providing Medically Tailored Meals to Women in AmeriHealth Caritas DC’s Bright StartSM Program

WASHINGTON, DC (February 13, 2019)—A unique partnership serving at-risk new and expectant mothers is improving outcomes through home-delivered specialized meals. AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia (DC) has partnered with regional non-profit Food & Friends, which specializes in medically tailored meals for individuals with serious illnesses, to provide meals to pregnant women in its Bright StartSM maternal health program. This service is aimed at reducing risks resulting from gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia, which can cause severe harm to both mother and baby. New mothers can also receive meals to aid recovery and the postpartum transition.

“It is our priority to help improve perinatal outcomes. This partnership allows us to address a social determinant of health, food insecurity, during pregnancy, while connecting members with resources to support their long-term nutritional needs,” said AmeriHealth Caritas DC Market President Karen M. Dale, R.N., M.S.N. “This intervention is one of a broad array of comprehensive psychosocial services we provide to ensure our members have an equitable chance to achieve positive health outcomes.”

“This program provides women with the nutritious meals and education they need to not only manage pregnancy-related conditions, but also set both mother and child on a course for long-term health,” said Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH, Executive Director of Food & Friends. “We believe that strategic partnerships between insurance providers and on-the-ground community organizations can provide unique, lasting benefits to our community. We’re excited to partner with AmeriHealth Caritas DC on this innovative program.”

The partnership began in late 2017, but ramped up quickly in the latter half of 2018 after early positive results. Since the inception of the program, 340 expectant mothers have received home-delivered meals through the program. An additional 345 Bright StartSM client dependents have received meals in an effort to improve health and reduce stress for the entire household.

Once enrolled in the service, each participant receives 6 days worth of meals a week, which will continue through eight weeks past delivery. The meals are tailored to meet the specific dietary needs of each woman, as directed by a dietitian or other medical provider. Participants also receive nutrition counseling from a Food & Friends registered and licensed dietitian.

“For 30 years, Food & Friends has worked to support members of our community by addressing complex health problems through home-delivered meals and nutrition counseling. This program serves a particularly high-need population within our community, and is an important extension of Food & Friends’ mission,” said Stoltzfus.

As the program continues to grow, both organizations are monitoring outcomes closely and have big expectations for significantly improved outcomes for the AmeriHealth members participating in the program.

More health plans are addressing social determinants of health, including food insecurity, to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Similar partnerships have been instituted elsewhere in the country with encouraging results, but the AmeriHealth Caritas DC/Food & Friends initiative is the first to specifically target high-risk pregnancies and was the first of its kind in the District.

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About Food & Friends:

Established in 1988, Food & Friends is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides nutritionally tailored, home-delivered meals to people facing a life-challenging health crisis. We believe that food heals and each year we prepare and deliver nearly 1 million meals across 5,300 square miles to our neighbors – at no charge. We help our clients feel better, connect them to their community and empower them to manage their illnesses. Over 8,500 volunteers touch more than 3,000 lives annually. At Food & Friends, we are driven by a simple premise: anyone can get sick and everyone can help. www.foodandfriends.org

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