Data-driven, culturally informed, educational approach aims to reduce chronic disease burden and food insecurity in Chicago
The first Chicagoan received a box of fresh produce March 20, 2023 as part of a pilot produce prescription program run by a partnership between Medical Home Network (MHN), Top Box Foods and Alivio Medical Center (AMC).
The project, funded by a grant from the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program-Produce Prescription Program, is designed to determine if providing home-delivered fruits and vegetables, in tandem with care coordination and health coaching, can improve the health and food security of hypertensive Medicaid patients while lowering care costs.
Each project partner brings the unique expertise needed to make it a success. Top Box Foods has a breadth of experience in food distribution and food access initiatives, MHN has deep care coordination and data analytics experience, and AMC has been delivering care across 10 Chicago communities for over 30 years. Combining those specialties gives this program a recipe for success.
“Delivering healthy food is important, but if you don’t know how to cut or cook the produce provided, it’s not as helpful as it could be,” said Connor DeLoach, Top Box Foods executive director. “Providing health coaching and education is a really important feature of the program. The intention surrounding this partnership goes beyond just food access to creating lifelong benefits for participants, which is exciting and where this field is going.”
AMC identified 114 of their Medicaid patients with high, uncontrolled blood pressure to be part of the program. Participants will receive boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables from Top Box Foods each week and will also have access to health coaches and culturally appropriate diet counseling from AMC.
MHN will evaluate the success of the program by analyzing participants’ food insecurity and social determinants of health screenings, healthcare use and costs, and blood pressure readings taken at home by participants, among other metrics. This added layer of data analytics sets this program apart.
“So many similar programs have lacked a comprehensive evaluation of the impact on diet-related health conditions, food security, and care use and costs,” said Tina Spector, MHN vice president for clinical integration and innovation. “At MHN, we have extensive experience in data collection and analytics, and we are excited to come together with Top Box and AMC to measure the impact this program will have on Medicaid beneficiaries in Chicago.”
Should the program find success in its two-year trial run, MHN, AMC and Top Box Foods will pitch the model to Chicagoland hospitals and health plans, so they can replicate its success with their patients and members.
“We are excited to see the impact this program has on our Medicaid population and even more excited at the prospect of spreading this approach to other Chicago-area provider organizations, so every patient who needs this type of intervention can have access to it,” said Esther Corpuz, CEO of Alivio Medical Center.