Food Is Medicine – Virtual Meet-Up Recording and Notes

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hosted a free virtual Meet-Up via zoom on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 to explore the concept of “Food is Medicine.”

We learned from experts in the field of medicine, nutrition and programming about research, barriers and solutions to reduce healthcare costs through our food sources.

Guest speakers included Dr. Patrick Olson, Chandler Rosenberg from Plant Based Utah, Amanda Cummins from FARMacy West Virginia, and Brian Carroll, Dietetics Internship Director at the University of Tennessee at Martin and Local Food Network (LFN)  Board member.  Facilitating the conversation is Jacquie Jones, Founder of Healthy Marketing Solutions, who also serves on the LFN Board of Directors.

This is a video recording of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Virtual Meet-Up in collaboration with Plant Based Utah, FARMacy West Virginia, and the University of Tennessee at Martin held on May 11, 2022.


Healthiness is a state in itself to prevent critical diseases.” – Dr. Olson, Sr.

It’s important to meet people where they are.”

“Create an elevator speech to give to providers regarding therapeutic lifestyle changes.”

“It’s important and easier to learn healthy eating concepts from a young age, than to change bad eating habits.”

“Implementing policy changes to support “Food is Medicine” initiatives is vital to create lasting change.”

Educate. Educate. Educate.”

Research Says…

The term “food is medicine” is not an abstract metaphor or a clever slogan. “Food is medicine” is a simple fact. Yes, the phrase can be a helpful reminder, but a new landmark report shows that it’s also simply the truth—and it’s time we pay attention.

The Center for Food As Medicine and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center have released their first-ever academic narrative review and report of the food-as-medicine movement: Food as medicine review and report: how food and diet impact the treatment of disease.

The extensive and transformative research report shows that access to diverse foods—and the ability to afford them—can fight inflammation, reduce susceptibility to diet-related diseases, and ultimately, help folks live better and longer. “The use of food as medicine is rooted in science and has been adopted and practiced by numerous cultures despite the fact that the history of food as medicine was largely ignored by academics until the 21st century,” the report notes.

Want a second opinion? Just ask a doctor: On an episode of the podcast Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Rupa Marya, a physician and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, shared how food, environment, injustice, and more all impact a person’s health from their brain to their immune system—and it’s vital that we zoom out and examine the structural barriers to fresh, nutritious food. We encourage you to listen to the full conversation here where she and her co-author, Raj Patel, discuss their book “Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice.”

“Health can no longer be viewed as something we can try to get as individuals,” Dr. Marya said on the podcast. “We have to understand that health must be attained in the context of our communities, of our families, where we are in our societies, and in relationship to the web of life.”

Better community health, then, is simultaneously a food system issue and a social justice issue, illuminating the ways that our diets, our bodies, and our planet are intricately linked. Food Tank has spotlighted 22 of the many global medical professionals who are showing, day in and day out, that food is not only like medicine—it is also, in fact, our first medicine.

GusNIP Program Findings (data points)

GusNIP Communicating the Impact of a Federal Food Assistance Program

Food is Medicine Peer Reviewed Research (DIG IN!)

How a Produce Prescription Program Works:

  • A healthcare provider (hospital, clinic, practice) partners with a local food market or producer group to establish a funded prescription program
  • Program participants enroll with healthcare providers and receive ‘prescriptions’
  • Participants bring their prescriptions to participating markets on pick-up days to purchase or pick up produce.

Additional Food Service Programs to increase access to fresh, healthy foods:

Medically Tailored Meal: Medically tailored meals are meals developed to address the dietary needs of an individual’s medical condition by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Individuals are referred by a health care provider or plan.

Medically Tailored Food Packages: Medically tailored food packages include a selection of minimally prepared grocery items selected by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or other qualified nutrition professional as part of a treatment plan for an individual with a defined medical diagnosis. The recipient of medically tailored food is typically capable of shopping for and picking up the food and preparing it at home, and is referred by a health care provider or plan.

Nutritious Food Referrals: Nutritious Food Referrals provide funds for free or discounted nutritious foods. Individuals must receive referrals from health care providers or plans after being identified as having or being at risk for diet-related diseases. These funds may be spent at a variety of retailers such as grocers, farmers’ markets, or within Community Supported Agriculture programs.


FARMacy West Virginia

The FARMacy Pilot Program was initiated in the summer of 2016 as a collaboration between Wheeling Health Right Clinic in Wheeling, WV and Grow Ohio Valley, an urban farming group also located in Wheeling, WV. The collaboration came out of a joint concern for the health of the population of West Virginia, which leads the country in chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. 

That have proven via data collection that “food is medicine,” and that the first method of both treatment and prevention of chronic disease should be with a healthy diet.

Community Farm Alliance – Kentucky – Fresh Rx For Moms – Prescription Program for Moms

An expansion of the Fresh Rx Program for expecting mothers to recruit 4 farmers markets to offer Fresh Rx PPR by then of the grant period; report 85% of participants having healthier eating habits and regularly purchase Kentucky-grown produce, 80% show improvement in dietary health, and 65% show reduction in healthcare use and associated costs; and all participating markets report increases of at least 15% per year in gross sale of locally-produced fruits and vegetables. The project provides up to $20 a week from 21 to 40 weeks gestation, to redeem on Kentucky-grown fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.

MCHC – Kentucky

The PRX project provides incentive tokens for SNAP participants who have been diagnosed with  Hypertension, Diabetes and/or Obesity, to be spent like cash to purchase fresh, locally or regionally sourced produce. Each participant will receive tokens equivalent to $30 per week for 20 weeks to be redeemed at local Farmer’s Markets and other local produce vendors who accept SNAP benefits. They collect baseline measurements of vital signs and blood sugar levels upon enrollment into the program and again at program’s end, to determine the overall change in health outcomes during the course of the program.

Kaiser Permanente

As a Kaiser Permanente member, you can sign up for in-person, over-the-phone, and online wellness programs and classes designed to help you achieve your health goals. All sessions are taught by our team of experts and will walk you through how to make actionable lifestyle changes.

University of UTAH College of Health

Food Is Medicine Conference:

Suggested Books

Order these books through Amazon Smiles – Your purchase donates to the LFN


– RFA:

What will you do in your community to increase access to healthy foods?

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