God's Love We Deliver
166 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
Here are some of our issues and recent successes.
With generous funding from The M·A·C AIDS Fund, God’s Love We Deliver hosted the 2017 Food Is Medicine Coalition National Symposium, September 11-13, at the offices of Hogan Lovell in Washington D.C. The Symposium brought together the Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), a diverse set of food and nutrition services agencies from across the nation, who deliver medically-tailored diets to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Most agencies began more than 30 years ago at the height of the AIDS pandemic and have since expanded their missions to serve persons living with HIV and other chronic and severe illnesses: cancer, renal failure, Alzheimer’s, severe diabetes, and many, many more. For this population: food is medicine.
The Symposium is the culmination of the year-long staff development program for local food and nutrition services agencies in how to advocate for food and nutrition services at local, state and national levels, as well as a venue for updates and education about best practices for medically tailored nutrition nationwide. This year featured a heavy focus on FIMC agency research that demonstrates that medically-tailored food and nutrition services are integral to accomplishing positive health outcomes, lower healthcare costs and improved patient satisfaction for the highest risk patients in the healthcare system, as well as on opportunities in public and private healthcare for supporting food and nutrition services for people living with severe and chronic illnesses.
Attendees enjoyed participation from coalition partners: Robert Greenwald and Kathryn Garfield of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School; Bill McColl, Director of Health Policy at AIDS United; and Kathy Patrick, Principal at Strategic Sense. The Symposium featured speakers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AcademyHealth, the Nonprofit Finance Fund, and Manatt Health. Representative Jim McGovern (MA-2, Chair of the Hunger Caucus) kicked off the Symposium on day one, expressing his support for the #foodismedicine message.
On September 13, participants went to the Hill to advocate for the maintenance and importance of the Ryan White Treatment and Modernization Act and the incorporation of food and nutrition services for people living with severe illness into Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance.
In total, the Symposium is a way to unite the advocacy goals of food and nutrition services agencies from across the country, to share new and emerging research on food as medicine, and to share best practices in contracting with hospitals and insurance providers.
God’s Love We Deliver was joined by the following agencies:
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, AIDS Project New Haven (CT), AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (CA), Ceres Community Project (CA), Community Servings (MA), CrescentCare Health - Food For Friends (LA), Food & Friends (DC), Food For Thought (CA), Heartland Health Outreach, Lifelong - Chicken Soup Brigade (WA), Mama's Kitchen (CA), MANNA (PA), Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana (IN), Moveable Feast (MD), Open Arms of Minnesota (MN), Open Hand Atlanta (GA), Project Angel Food (CA), Project Angel Heart (CO), Project Open Hand (CA), Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (AZ), The Health Trust (CA), The Joy Bus (AZ), The Open, Door (MA), The Poverello Center (FL) and Tulsa CARES (OK).
God’s Love We Deliver would like to thank The M·A·C AIDS Fund for generously funding this year’s Symposium and the work of God’s Love We Deliver and our sister agencies.
Our Director of Policy & Planning, Alissa Wassung, made The NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College's 40 Under 40: The Rising Stars in NYC Food Policy 2017 list! Congratulations!!
The NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College has released its annual class of New York City's 40 under 40 who are working to transform the food system. The honorees include policymakers, educators, community advocates, farmers and innovators who are making significant strides to create healthier, more sustainable food environments, and who use food to promote community and economic development.
The Food Policy Center at Hunter College's 40 under 40 class reflects the Center's broad perspective around food policy: food policies are not simply regulations imposed by governmental bodies; we believe that food policy impacts millions of New Yorkers every day, at home and at work and in our community. An event to honor these individuals will take place at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College on June 8th, 2017. Congratulations Class of 2017!
April was Senior Hunger Awareness Month and May is Older Americans Month. In commemoration, the Huffington Post ran an excellent article, written by the President of the AARP Foundation, shedding light on the more than 10 million older adults who are hungry in America. The emphasis on hunger as a long-term threat to public health is particularly noteworthy: "Seniors who are food insecure are 50 percent more likely to have diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have congestive heart failure or a heart attack....hunger costs the U.S. healthcare system $130.5 billion annually". These statistics, although tough to swallow, are a reality we face every day here at God's Love We Deliver. Although we serve all ages, over 60% of the clients we serve are over 60. We thank the Huffington post and AARP Foundation for a well-written article on a very important topic.
One in six children in the United States suffers from food insecurity in the United States. To combat the high prevalence of food insecurity, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Food Research and Action Center developed a screening tool to detect food insecurity in children. By detecting food insecurity as a part of a regular doctor's visit, referrals can be made to food assistance programs. Here at God's Love, we do our part to combat food insecurity in the population we serve. We not only feed our clients who are living with chronic illness but also feed their children. We understand that illness can affect an entire family and when the caregiver is ill their family can suffer. At God's Love, we also support a universal malnutrition screening tool to identify patients with malnutrition or at risk of malnutrition at the hospital. We believe this tool will prevent further complications for patients, improve health outcomes, and reduce hospital costs. To read more about the food insecurity screening tool click here.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report this month titled GAP: A Shortage of Affordable Homes. The extensive report, though specifically focused on housing, also discusses the sacrifices people make due to the high cost of housing. This includes a tradeoff between housing, medications and food and nutrition: "To make ends meet, severely cost-burdened renters make significant sacrifices on other basic necessities. Severely cost-burdened renters in the lowest quartile of expenditures spend 41% less on food and health care than similar households who are not cost burdened (Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2016)."
As a medically tailored home-delivered meal provider, housing is in our purpose. Having a stable home is key to recovery and receiving and properly using our medically tailored nutrition. That is why we partner locally with over 200 community-based agencies to refer clients to the services they need and make sure we have a functioning safety net for the most vulnerable in our community. Nationally, our Director of Policy & Planning, Alissa Wassung, co-chairs the Structural Interventions Working Group of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership, which is designed to educate and advocate on the deep impact that lack of access to Food and Nutrition, Housing and Employment has on people who are severely ill. We believe that through the provision of our program and our energy at the national level that we will make progress on supporting these key programs.
Last week our policy team attended the Symposium on LGBTQ Aging at the LGBT Social Science & Public Policy Center at Roosevelt House. This symposium offered various panels and in-depth discussions on how to raise awareness on issues affecting LGBT elders, the need for research & advocacy efforts around these issues, and collaboration to better assist the LGBTQ community. NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres, a member of the LGBT Caucus of the Council, participated in a Q & A session with fellow panelists and described the lack of visibility of the aging LGBTQ community. He offered the following wisdom to those in the audience on how to increase visibility, "Never underestimate the power of personal narrative. Allowing LGBTQ members to share their stories is a powerful way to end discrimination and increase understanding".
Here at God’s Love we are proud to serve the aging LGBTQ community with chronic disease and we firmly agree with the power of sharing stories. We offer our clients that opportunity through various posts, articles, blogs and events. Through these avenues we learn that our program is a critical support for the LGBT community as it ages.
God’s Love has a long history of service to and close collaboration with the LGBTQIA community and with CBOs that serve that community, such as GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders). We welcome these clients and others onto our Client and Community Advisory Board and design our program to incorporate the specific needs of all of our vulnerable populations, from arranging unique delivery directions for our drivers to accommodate the disabilities of our clients, to an individually tailored diet, to personalized nutrition counseling, to efforts to address stigma. Annually, our Program Services staff who have direct contact with clients attend multiple, God’s Love mandated trainings on subjects such as Cultural Competency and Sensitivity, Client Confidentiality, as well as Cultural Awareness in Dementia Care and Mental Health in Ethnically Diverse and LGBTQIA Groups.
Locally and nationally we hold leadership positions with organizations that are at the forefront in the fight against stigma and discrimination. Our President & CEO sits on the national Public Policy Committee for AIDS United. Our Director of Policy & Planning is the Co-chair of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership’s Structural Interventions Working Group, designed to increase awareness around nutrition and housing needs, criminalization and stigma for people living with HIV. Locally, our Director of Nutrition Services is the Chair of the Integration of Care Committee of our HIV Planning Council and our Senior Director of Program is a member of the HIV Planning Council’s Finance Committee and of the HIV Care Services Community Advisory Group.
The Symposium was a wealth of information and a wonderful opportunity to connect with others who are committed to the community as we are. We look forward to many more years of service.
A new report by NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College sets out to inspire current researchers and innovators in the food world to use technology. As an organization that is constantly evolving to meet our clients growing needs, we are very inspired by this new report.
The report finds that many low-income households have a mobile device that can connect to the internet, therefore; low-income populations can be engaged to address their food needs through technology. This finding opens the door for food assistance providers to reach more people through the use of the internet and technology. For example, many states allow SNAP users to submit their applications online. Allowing people to submit their applications online, eliminates the barriers that exist when requiring an in-person application. The immediacy of online submission means people are not waiting as long for their benefits. In addition to an online application, there are also mobile apps that allow SNAP recipients to check their balance quickly and easily.
SNAP is not the only entity that is helping those that are food insecure through technology. There are plenty of helpful nutrition apps, financial management apps, meal planning apps, and grocery coupon websites and apps that are useful for anyone who is facing food insecurity. At God's Love We Deliver we are constantly improving our services through the use of technology and hope others are inspired by this report to do the same.
Despite the established link between nutritional deficiencies and disease, health care providers often do not screen for food insecurity or provide referrals to food and nutrition providers. In a recent blog post by the Health Affairs Blog, they discuss Hunger Free Colorado, a program that addresses food insecurity by implementing a multifaceted approach. The program’s goal is to increase nutritious food access and decrease diet-related diseases throughout the state. The program, implemented by Kaiser Permanente of Colorado, involves a two-question hunger screen and a follow-up referral process. God’s Love We Deliver applauds the efforts of the Hunger Free Colorado program as it is a huge step towards clinic-to-community integration that we so desperately need to address food insecurity. In addition, we would like to emphasize the need not only for a food insecurity screen but also a malnutrition screen, as patients may have access to food, but it may not be the food they need.
This past Wednesday, God's Love We Deliver's Policy & Planning team attended the 2016 Ending the Epidemic Summit in Albany. This Summit brings together HIV/AIDS professionals from all over the state of New York to discuss past accomplishments, current research and future opportunities as we work collectively to end AIDS in our state. We were proud to see several panels focus their discussion toward involving CBO's in the care continuum. In addition, on several panels, a combination of both professionals and actual clients who, themselves, are HIV positive really gave a fuller portrait of the challenges and successes of our goal. We look forward to our continued involvement in the Ending the Epidemic Coalition and to helping plan next year's summit in order to educate the community about the importance of food and nutrition services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
On Monday December 5th, The New York City Council's LGBT Caucus and the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus celebrated World AIDS Day at City Hall. The program included remarks from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Rosie Mendez, and Corey Johnson, as well as several wonderful performances from students of various schools in New York City and presentations of proclamation to deserving honorees who have had a significant impact on people living with HIV/AIDS. One particular honoree, Debra Fraser-Howze , Founder & former President & CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, as well as an advisor on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 1995-2001, delivered a particularly moving speech. Howze addressed the group noting the obvious fear that comes with uncertain times. Fraser- Howze's inspiring words echoed our pledge to continue to be here for those in our communities who so desperately need us, now and into the future. The celebration was a beautiful commemoration to a day in which we recalled our roots as offering a compassionate response to the AIDS pandemic and reaffirmed our commitment to people living with HIV.
We were so happy to be joined this week by Sera Morgan, HRSA Project Officer for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program's New York City EMA, and our colleagues from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Public Health Solutions. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program generously funds many of our services at Gods Love We Deliver for our clients living with HIV/AIDS. We were able to take Sera on a tour of our new building to show her our mission in action, and got to sit down and discuss key programmatic and policy issues facing our clients living with HIV/AIDS. We emphasized the importance of our program in the HIV continuum of care, as it helps our clients stay healthy, in treatment and adherent to their medications. It was a truly inspiring visit.
We are so thrilled to have been mentioned in a recent article in the Huffington Post titled "Take Care to Give Care: Nourishing Our Nation's Caregivers". This article, written in honor of November's National Family Caregivers Month, sheds light on the 34.2 million Americans that have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. The article discusses the importance of nutrition not only for the person who is sick but also for their caretaker. Often times caregivers, especially those who are not paid, are busy and under stress which leads them to eat an unhealthy diet. That unhealthy diet could also be fed to the person they are taking care of.
At God's Love, we recognize the importance of nutrition, not only for the client but also their caretakers. This is why we deliver meals for our client, their senior caretakers, and also their children, in order to eliminate any stress relating to cooking or shopping. In addition, and referenced in the article, our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists released a helpful booklet titled "Nutrition Tips for Caregivers" that provides helpful food safety, diet, and nutrition information. For more information about our senior caregiver program or our other services please visit our website.
God's Love We Deliver President & CEO Karen Pearl presented yesterday at the American Public Health Association's Annual Meeting in Denver. APHA's annual meeting brings together over 12,000 public health professionals from around the world. The theme of this year's meeting is, "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health". Karen, along with co-presenter Angela Aidala, researcher at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health presented their research titled, "Cost and Threshold Analysis of Food and Nutrition Services as an HIV Care and Prevention Intervention". The study, undertaken in partnership with David Holtgrave and his team from Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the second part of a three-part study that will examine whether the provision of food and nutrition services is a healthcare cost saving exercise. The threshold analysis specifically looks at the per client cost of delivering medically informed food pantry, congregate meals, and home delivered meals, and how many HIV transmissions would have to be averted in order to claim cost-effectiveness to society.
The next step will be to undertake a cost-utility analysis that demonstrates, by weaving in other research in the field, how many HIV transmissions are actually averted because of access to food and nutrition services. The research team also presented on outcomes previously analyzed that will inform the cost-utility analysis: reductions in missed appointments, ER visits, and inpatient stays for those people with HIV (PWH) who are food secure. The threshold and utility analyses will go a long way to position food and nutrition services alongside other prevention services and make FNS a more integral part of the care continuum for PWH. We are excited that Karen was able to share these positive results with the rest of the public health world at APHA and look forward to presenting again in the future.
We are so grateful to New York Community trust for their generous funding of our advocacy efforts at God's Love We Deliver. New York Community Trust announced via twitter today that they are supporting God's Love in our quest to advocate for Medicaid coverage of medically tailored home-delivered meals for the chronically ill. We are thrilled that New York Community trust recognizes the importance of medically tailored home-delivered meals for the most vulnerable in our community and understands how vital it is that our services are incorporated into the care continuum for the highest risk, highest need Medicaid recipients. We have been working toward this incorporation for a long time, not only within our organization, but also in conjunction with the Food is Medicine Coalition across the nation. Please follow our blog for updates and follow the Food is Medicine Coalition on twitter.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of many of our clients who suffer from this illness we hope to provide some information on how food can aide before, during and after treatment. UT News (University of Texas at Austin) released an article about how small changes in a person's diet can increase the chances of surviving breast cancer. Considering about 12 percent of women in the United States will suffer from breast cancer, it is important that we explore every possibility available to prevent the disease from becoming fatal.
Diet is often overlooked by both patients and doctors when it comes to cancer. This isn't surprising considering this is a very complicated disease. As the article urges, however, we must put a larger emphasis on diet to ensure the best health outcomes for breast cancer patients. When patients are eating healthy diets they are able to build up their immune system and better withstand the often painful and harsh cancer treatments. A healthy diet will also prevent malnutrition which often affects cancer patients as they go through chemotherapy, radiation and other various forms of treatment.
We are so thrilled to announce that God's Love We Deliver has teamed up with researchers at the New York University School of Medicine Perlmutter Cancer Center to prove that the quality of life of patients with advanced-stage cancer can be improved by personal delivery of nutritious, medically tailored meals. "Essentially, it's a trial to assess whether food can, almost literally, be medicine," says lead researcher Dr. Omar Ishaq, in a recent article. Here at God's Love, we could not be more excited to engage in a study, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, that has the potential to improve the quality of life for not only the patients involved in this study, but could have a huge impact on cancer treatment more broadly.
Here at God's Love We Deliver, we make eating a healthy diet easy for our breast cancer clients, and all of our clients. Our clients receive nutrition education from our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), over the phone, in the comfort of their home. Our RDNs then create a medically-tailored meal plan that fits with their individual diagnoses. Meals are then delivered right to their home. Here at God's Love, we believe that Food is Medicine and team up with a coalition of similar organizations that operate based on this belief. Our motivation to do what we do every day is for each of our clients who suffer from debilitating diseases such as breast cancer. This study, as well as others like it that demonstrate how food can act as medicine makes our efforts worth fighting for.
Today, October 24th marks National Food Day in the United States. What exactly is National Food Day? Each year, Food Day posts several priorities on its website for National Food Day and hosts thousands of events across the nation to educate people about healthy diets and advocate for better food policy. This year the priorities are as follows:
1. Promote safe, healthier diets
2. Support sustainable and organic farms
3. Reduce hunger and improve food access
4. Reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals
5. Support fair working conditions for food and farm workers
Each priority is in and of itself a serious undertaking; and while we support them wholeheartedly, it is vital that our priorities take into account the nutrition needs of every individual in our communities. Increasing SNAP benefits is one way to improve food access, in addition to ensuring every community has an accessible grocery store, yet our clients are not always able to take advantage of SNAP benefits or grocery stores, both because of mobility issues and a desperate need for specialized diets. They are very ill with various debilitating diseases that prevent them from shopping and cooking for themselves. Especially as the number of people living with chronic and severe illnesses increases, access to food and the goal that it be a safe and healthy diet requires a broad view. We work hard to highlight the perspective of our clients on Food Day and throughout the year.
God's Love is currently the only organization in New York City that provides medically tailored home-delivered meals. These meals are specifically tailored to a client's illness by registered dietitians. While there are other organizations like God's Love We Deliver, many of them involved in our Food is Medicine Coalition, the services we provide are not available in many states across the country, leaving the seriously ill facing food insecurity and malnutrition. We commend Food Day for shedding light on some of the most serious issues we face in the food world across the nation and hope as you reflect on National Food Day that you remember the other faces of hunger that exist in communities across our country.
If you would like more information on our advocacy efforts please follow our blog or follow the Food is Medicine Coalition on twitter @fimcoalition to learn about what we are doing in the food and nutrition world.
In an article posted earlier this year on the Cambro blog, the author describes how home- delivered meal programs, like our home-delivered meal program at God’s Love, reduce hospital readmissions rates. Although God’s Love has been making this argument since our inception in the 1980’s, it is refreshing to see others reinforce our research and our work.
As stated in the article, by delivering a nutritious meal to a client’s home, they are able to stay healthy and, therefore, stay out of the hospital. This means the services we provide here at God’s Love are beneficial for two essential reasons: 1.) Our services result in better health outcomes for our clients resulting in less time spent in the hospital, which 2.) Lowers health care costs.
Data provided in the article affirms our claims of better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs. In a six-month pilot study in Florida, patients who received home-delivered meals had 17% readmission rates; far lower than the 28% readmission rate experienced by clients not receiving the home-delivered meals. If this program was expanded, the researchers in the study estimated they could save the hospital system 1.5 million dollars annually.
Currently, there is no dedicated funding source for medically-tailored home delivered meals, except for people living with HIV(PLWH). Although PLWH are in need of this service, so are millions of other people living with serious illnesses. If one hospital system could save 1.5 million dollars a year using a home-delivered meal service, imagine how much money organizations like God’s Love could save all hospitals in the country, and more importantly, how many people could benefit from these critical services.
Currently, our organization leads the Food Is Medicine Coalition. It is the Coalition’s goal to fund food and nutritional services for people with serious illnesses. If you would like to learn more about the Food Is Medicine Coalition visit our webpage or follow us on twitter @fimcoalition.
This year, God’s Love We Deliver was absolutely thrilled to host the 6th annual Advocacy Capacity Building Project National Symposium, right here at our building in New York City. God’s Love leads the Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), a volunteer coalition of nonprofit food and nutrition services agencies across the nation who are committed to nourishing the sickest of the sick in our communities. Each year, with generous funding from the M•A•C AIDS Fund, we gather FIMC at a 3-day Symposium focused on expanding access for our clients to our life-saving services. a. This year, over 30 organizations joined us in NYC to engage in vital conversations surrounding contracting, advocacy efforts, and research within our field. We were also joined by incredible guest speakers such as Jerry Tolk of FleishmanHillard, Bill McColl of AIDS United, Steve Erickson of Emstar Research and Edith Coakley Stowe of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. This year we had the honor of being joined via Skype by Congressman Jim McGovern, a wonderful champion for FIMC and co-sponsor of our Congressional Briefing this past March.
Our National Symposium is also the culmination of our annual advocacy training program, the Advocacy Capacity Building Project (ACBP). This year-long staff development program for selected local food and nutrition services agencies teaches them how to advocate for food and nutrition services at local, state and national levels, and the Symposium serves as a venue for updates and education about advocacy efforts for all food and nutrition services organizations nationwide.
In our sixth year, the Symposium continues to bring together like-minded organizations from around the country. It is through this symposium that organizations are able to work on advocacy goals, share new and emerging research, and to energize and learn. For more information on the Food is Medicine Coalition please check out our page or follow us on twitter @FIMCoalition. If you would like to follow our social media story from the ACBP 2016 symposium please view our storify.
This past Thursday, God's Love We Deliver was recognized by New York State's Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) as an outstanding project. God's Love We Deliver's very own Alissa Wassung, Director of Policy & Planning, was asked to present our success to 100 people in Albany. The Balancing Incentive Program provides states with financial incentives to increase access to non-institutional long-term services and supports (LTSS). As an organization whose goal is to keep our clients out of the hospital and healthy and happy in their homes, we were thrilled to be one of nine projects selected as an outstanding project. Through our project we were able to expand our service area to Nassau and Westchester Counties for our Community Partners Program and created a referral tool to help care managers identify those who are most at risk for malnutrition.
According to recently released data from the New York State Department of Health, New York State is on track to end the HIV/Aids epidemic by 2020! This is amazing news. As an organization that was started at the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, we are so thrilled that we have made such incredible progress over the past 30+ years. Although our medically tailored meals, which we deliver to our client's homes every day, could not cure our clients of this disease, it provides them with the dignity they deserve and the energy to keep fighting. We truly believe that food is medicine. God's Love feels very much a part of the fight to end HIV and we are so elated that there is finally an end in sight. Until then, we will continue to serve our clients with the love they deserve every day.
As described in a recent article by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, after 38 years as a doctor treating primarily cancer patients, Dr. Luis Pineda noticed something, the link between the side effects of cancer treatment and malnutrition. He saw his patients constantly struggle to get the nutrients they needed because of their lack of appetite. He decided to take action and enrolled in culinary classes in order to learn how to cook nutritious meals that were designed specifically for his patients. These meals were not only nutritious but also designed to please patient's taste buds so they were more likely to eat.
At God's Love We Deliver we understand the benefits of medically tailored meals and this is why we home deliver 1.5 million meals per year to our clients all over New York City. We hope that many other physicians will follow Dr. Pineda's lead in thinking outside the box when it comes to treatment. As the leaders of the Food is Medicine Coalition, we truly believe that food and nutrition is a vital part of treatment, and are constantly fighting to ensure medically tailored home-delivered meals and nutrition services are provided to those who are very ill. For more information about the Food is Medicine Coalition and the work we are doing please visit us on twitter and be sure to tweet using the hashtag #foodismedicine.
At God's Love we believe food is love and food is medicine, so we are always on the lookout for captivating stories that relay that message. The Huffington Post featured a story on their blog that came from a woman with an "invisible illness". Invisible illnesses cause great pain to the sufferer, but the person may appear perfectly healthy.
Although invisible illnesses can be debilitating, this particular story took a positive spin on the issue. The writer explained that instead of succumbing to her illness, she took control of her life by changing her perspective on food. Food became medicine. By shifting her view of food from just something you eat when you are hungry to actual fuel or genuine medicine, she gained a new overall view of life.
With the endless advertisements for junk food and soda products or even products that are advertised as healthy, but are really loaded with sugar, it can be extremely difficult to decipher which options are healthy. This difficulty becomes magnified when your ability to cook and buy food for yourself is taken away from you due to an illness. At God's Love we are able to provide healthy and nutritious meals to our client's every day. These meals are medically tailored to meet the client's specific illness. Our goal is to nourish our clients, so they can be as healthy as possible for as long as they are able. We see that food is medicine every single day and are thrilled that more and more people are reevaluating their perspective on food.
For more information on our mission in action and what we are doing to spread the word about #foodismedicine, please follow our God's Love and the Food Is Medicine Coalition on twitter.
NPR's All Things Considered, recently featured a program, run by the University of Illinois, that provides housing to patients with an array of medical conditions, who are dealing with homelessness and cycling in and out of the hospital. God's Love We Deliver commends the efforts of the University of Illinois and, at the same time, hopes to extend this conversation beyond housing. Housing is a vital stabilizer for patients in the community, but it does not address the clinical effects of living with multiple chronic illnesses. Housing will reduce the amount of recurrent visits from those who frequent the hospital solely because of their homelessness (because they want a warm, safe place to stay), but it will do very little for those who frequent the hospital because they are ill. At God's Love We Deliver, we know housing is extremely important, which is why we strive to keep our clients healthy and at home, yet we know that access to food and nutrition services should be just as important to hospitals and other healthcare entities.
Our response to serious illness and healthcare costs requires a multifaceted approach. The discussion cannot end at housing. The report cited in the NPR article says that 5 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries account for 54 percent of the total Medicaid expenditures. This 5 percent are "superutlizers" of the healthcare system. Arguably, the most efficient way to reduce healthcare costs is to address the needs of these superutilizers. Malnutrition is a root of the problem. 1 in 3 people enter the hospital malnourished, and adding medically tailored meals to a care plan can reduce healthcare costs up to 29%. By medically tailoring meals to meet our client's illnesses and delivering those meals right to their door, clients are able to better cope with their illnesses, adhere to their medication, and stay out of the hospital. The cost of a one night stay in the hospital is equivalent to the cost of feeding someone for half a year. Thus our services are not only healthful, but also cost effective.
And so, we need to be asking the right questions. If a patient can't afford food, are there services offered to provide access to food? Is the food healthy and nutritious for someone with a serious illness to aid in their recovery or in coping with their illness? If the person is too sick to shop or cook are there services like God's Love offered to them? What about to their children? We can't just offer food to people. We need to offer food that makes them better. We can't just offer housing; we have to offer a variety of services that gives the client the best chance of staying out of the hospital and living their best life.
Along with our sister agencies in the Food Is Medicine Coalition, we work to ensure that our services will be available for our clients and those to come. For more information about God's Love We Deliver, please visit us on our website or social media accounts. For more information about the Food is Medicine Coalition and how we hope to solve these serious issues please follow us on twitter.
Yesterday, the Food Research & Action Center released a report on Food Hardship in the United States on the National, State and Local level. Food hardship was measured using the survey question, "Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?" According to the report, things are getting better in the United States. From 2013 to 2015 there has been a significant decline in the rate of food hardship in the nation.
A vital piece of bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) this week. The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act is essential for the millions of elderly and disabled persons who are at-risk for developing diabetes.
We are thrilled to be mentioned with fellow Food Is Medicine Agencies in the recent brief from our colleagues at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Building a Connection Between Senior Hunger and Health Outcomes. The brief highlights the ways in which programs across the food and nutrition services continuum can address health and hunger at each stage of aging and/or illness for seniors.
Today, there is huge opportunity to bridge the continuum of care. In a recent NYSHealth-funded report, prepared by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, researchers examined hospitals’ involvement in community-based population health programs to address non-medical health determinants.
Strong evidence shows that community-level social and environmental factors can affect health significantly. As hospitals assume greater risk for their patients, some argue that they should focus not only on the medical care of their attributed patients, but also on improving non-medical health determinants—such as access to healthy foods, housing, and employment. The report finds that New York State hospitals’ involvement in programs to address community non-medical health determinants is not widespread, owing to a perceived lack of incentives and resources for such programs.
At God’s Love, we know that our medically appropriate meals and personal nutrition counseling improve patients’ health and wellbeing, while helping to reduce health care costs. We already partner with 34 Medicaid managed long term care plans to do so through our Community Partners Program. We are also deeply involved in the statewide push to reduce hospital admissions by 25% through DSRIP (the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment model). All of our hospital partners have recognized the efficacy of our services and are now navigating ways to include them in discharge planning for vulnerable individuals.
Changing the paradigm takes time, but as we educate and elucidate how medically tailored home-delivered meals are a low-cost, effective strategy for hospitals to prevent recidivism, we believe the investment is worth it for our clients. Identifying and treating malnourished patients upon admission and supporting them through discharge go beyond the hospitals four walls.
Civil Society Hearing on AIDS at the United Nations
Yesterday, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly held an informal interactive hearing with representatives of civil society as part of the preparatory process for the High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS. Since the start of the AIDS epidemic, civil society, shorthand for ’all of civil society, including key populations, women and girls, people living with HIV, as well as community-based organizations and nongovernmental organizations’, has been at the forefront of the response to HIV —demanding access to treatment and HIV services, calling for the respect of human rights and supporting community-led HIV services.
Civil society representatives from around the world spoke to UN Member States about major issues in the AIDS response, including the need for increased financing, leaving no one behind, integration, innovation, and partnering between governments, the private sector and communities.
Panelists highlighted that community organizations were facing severe financial challenges and many are closing their doors. In a recent article entitled “Investing in community advocacy and services to end the AIDS epidemic” reports indicated that a total of 40% of organizations responding to a recent UNAIDS survey reported that their funding had decreased since 2013. Two thirds expected flat or reduced funding in the future. The decline in funding is resulting in a decline in community services—89% of those who reported a decrease in funding also reported they had to scale down their services as a result. Greater investment in civil society and community-based service delivery is critical to the Fast-Track approach. At today’s panel, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, stated that without 26 billion in funds, the rights of healthcare and security cannot be met.
Panelists also discussed the need for advocacy and the community efforts which have proven critical in overcoming many of the major challenges in the AIDS response, including reaching people most affected by HIV with life-changing HIV services, providing support for adherence to treatment and other essential health services.
Community advocacy and services are crucial to ending the AIDS epidemic. Here at God’s Love, one of our commitments is to ensure and expand access to food and nutrition programs for people living with HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White Treatment and Modernization Act (RW). It is because of advocates that Ryan White exists. God’s Love was the recipient of the one of the first RW Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) grants in 1992. Then in 2009 – when reauthorization wanted to strip RW of FNS, advocates from around the country banded together and went beyond restoration to make FNS a core medical service. We urge that funding for medically appropriate FNS be expanded in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. FNS play a critical role in ensuring that PWH engage in primary medical care, maintain their care, adhere to their medications, avoid costly institutional admissions/readmissions, and ultimately achieve viral suppression. We hope that this crucial service will feature at the upcoming
United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS which will take place from June 8 to 10 at the UN headquarters in New York.
For more information or to watch the latest videos published on UN Web TV please visit http://webtv.un.org/search?term=2016-04-05
Today, we were so pleased that we had the chance to share our urgent mission with Council Member Palma and her staff who rolled up their sleeves, put on an apron and helped roll out 4,081 meatballs this morning in our kitchen, equivalent to 1,360 meals! Together, they helped us do what we do best: cook and deliver the individually-tailored meals our clients require at a time in their lives when they need it most.
Our deepest thanks to Council Member Palma and her team for helping us do what we do best and for giving back to our community.
We are so excited to share highlights from the Food Is Medicine Coalition’s (FIMC) Congressional Briefing which was held on March 16 in Washington D.C. on the power of medically tailored food and nutrition services (MTFNS) to improve the experience of care and the health outcomes of people with critical and chronic illness and drastically reduce their overall healthcare costs.
There is no dedicated federal funding stream for medically tailored food and nutrition for people living with critical and chronic illness. The Food Is Medicine Coalition represents nonprofit food and nutrition providers across the country that tailor services specifically to people living with severe and/or chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease, advanced diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many others. FIMC’s goal is to preserve and expand coverage of this low-cost, high-impact intervention for critically-ill clients.
Research shows that our model of delivering nutritious meals to those most at risk for malnutrition because of their illness saves critical health care dollars, by keeping people in their homes when they are sick, rather than in more expensive hospitals or nursing homes. Research has also demonstrated that good nutrition promotes better health outcomes for the chronically ill. As malnutrition is a huge contributor to hospitalization, re-admission and nursing home care, incorporating food and nutrition services into healthcare planning is critical.
“We are committed to ensuring and expanding access to medically tailored food and nutrition programs for people living with severe and chronic illnesses,” said Karen Pearl, President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver and Convener of the Food Is Medicine Coalition, “Secure access to food, nutrition interventions, and quality health care are all fundamentally and inextricably related to positive health outcomes and lower costs.”
The briefing for the House of Representatives was made possible by Representative Jerrold Nadler from New York, Representative Jim McGovern from Massachusetts & Representative Lynn Jenkins from Kansas. Senator Gillibrand made the Briefing possible for the Senate.
“For more than 30 years, God’s Love We Deliver has served the sick and homebound of New York, providing healthy, medically-tailored food to millions of New Yorkers, and I am proud to have welcomed them to Washington, D.C., for this informative and timely briefing,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Research now demonstrates what we have known for years: providing medically tailored food to the sickest of the sick improves health outcomes and saves money. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress on the important issues raised in this briefing.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the incredible work being done by Community Servings across Massachusetts to provide medically tailored meals to those dealing with severe and chronic illness,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “We’ve known for a long time that nutritious food really is medicine and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to support the vital work of the Food is Medicine Coalition.”
Karen Pearl opened the Briefing with an overview of the Food is Medicine Coalition, including its services, history, national reach and impact. Dr. Sheri Weiser, from University of California at San Francisco, presented research on the role of medically tailored nutrition in preventing and treating severe and chronic illness, and most especially the incredible cost savings associated with its provision to people with acute and chronic illness. Sue Daugherty, CEO of MANNA, presented current research that shows a 24% savings for health plan members who receive medically tailored meals. Matt Pieper, Executive Director of Open Hand Atlanta presented examples from around the country of healthcare innovations at the state level that are incorporating medically tailored meals; and David Waters, CEO of Community Servings in Boston, detailed the significant barriers to reimbursement, even within healthcare innovations programs designed to foster connection to food and nutrition services. Robert Greenwald, Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School outlined the implications for healthcare policy at the national level.
“Medically tailored meals are not just cost effective, they are cost saving. The roadmap for Congress is clear. Medically tailored meals must be incorporated as a reimbursable service for the highest-risk, highest-need individuals in our healthcare system: the sickest of the sick that cost the healthcare system the most,” said Ms. Pearl. “Medically tailored meals are not merely a good option; they are indispensable toward achieving our national health goals.”
For more highlights from Wednesday’s briefing, follow us on twitter @FIMCoalition #FIMCBriefing16 #FIMC.
In a recent article “Invisible Work” Toll Among Family and Unpaid Caregivers, a team led by Dr. Jennifer L. Wolff at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health set out to examine the nature and intensity of involvement that caregivers provide, and to assess how it relates to their health and function. This study comes at a time when, as our population continues to age, there is a great need for family caregivers who provide a crucial help managing a patient’s care, but are often invisible in our health care system.
Recently published research, in the Journal of the American Medicine Association, shows that caregivers who provided substantial health care assistance, compared to those who provided none, were more likely to report caregiving-related emotional difficulty (34% vs. 15%), physical difficulty (22% vs. 6%), and financial difficulty (23% vs. 7%). They were 5 times as likely to report that their care duties interfered with valued activities and caregivers who provided substantial health care assistance were also more than 3 times as likely to lose work productivity.
Add to this aging and the statistics worsen. Senior caregivers face the combination of prolonged stress & the physical demands of caring for someone with a life threatening illness, combined with the other factors of aging place that are challenging for all seniors.
Here at God’s Love, we know that home-delivered meals and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) benefit caregivers by easing the stress of preparing food and addressing their medical needs through nutrition before they become acute. MNT helps caregivers maximize the efficacy of medications and improves health outcomes. We recognize and understand the difficulties that our clients and families face and to relieve some of this stress, provide meals to the senior caregivers of our clients.
Every day, caregivers answer the call and lift up the lives of their loved ones who need additional support. Let’s recognize their contributions and continue working towards a future where all caregivers know the same support and understanding they show for those they look after.
The Triple Aim of Healthcare Reform #hungerpc16
This year, we are thrilled to be a part of the 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. Karen Pearl, our President & CEO will represent the work we do at God’s Love on a panel discussing the landscape of hunger and health and the concept of a continuum of care for food and nutrition services that mirrors the medical continuum of care from prevention to treatment. Every day, we work to make nutrition an integral part of care for the clients that we serve.
The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Food Research and Action Center and Feeding America, draws anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates; federal, state and local government officials; child advocates; representatives of food banks and food rescue organizations; sponsoring organizations and nutrition and anti-obesity groups, for three days of training, networking and Capitol Hill advocacy.
A recent article in Edible Manhattan, entitled “This Hospital’s Rooftop Garden Embodies a Growing Shift Within Medical Care”, profiles Lenox Hill Hospital’s newrooftop garden, complete with rocking chairs, picnic tables and large wooden planters overflowing with peppermint basil, Kentucky mint, tomatillos, chives, strawberries and more. There is a emergent body of evidence that visual and physical contact with natural greenery provides a range of health benefits to people. Access to green space has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including both mental health and physical benefits, and can aid general well-being.
Here at God’s Love we cannot agree more! We recognize that food is love, and that it’s not just good nutrition which helps the body to heal, but an individual’s surrounding environment. Following this growing movement towards the beneficial effects of environmental health, we now feature a rooftop garden at our newly renovated building in SoHo.
The roof atop The Michael Kors Building at God’s Love We Deliver provides not only breathtaking views of the city from the 7th Floor, but also a 450 square foot open air herb garden, where scents of lavender, thyme, basil, oregano and chocolate mint fill the air. As part of our commitment to healthy eating and healthy healing, many of our herbs are used in our food we prepare for our clients, substituting for excess salt and artificial flavoring, which is never used at God’s Love. Our garden is open to staff and volunteers in all seasons. We have prepped our garden for the winter season and invite all volunteers and staff to help sow the soil this spring.
Please contact our volunteer department if you are interested in any volunteer opportunities including gardening with us this spring!
Congratulations to our colleagues at MAZON! The bi-partisan National Commission on Hunger issued its final report on Monday, January 4, on the state of hunger in America, and accepted several of MAZON's recommendations. Read more here.
We are so excited to be featured in this month’s New York-Presbyterian PPS Newsletter, under the collaborator spotlight: God's Love We Deliver Creates a Referral Tool for Medically-Tailored, Home-Delivered Meals.
We would like to thank the Clinical Operations Committee for giving us the opportunity to present the Food and Nutrition Services Referral Tool at their meeting and for encouraging hospital care coordinators to assess those members at greatest nutritional risk who would benefit from medically-tailored, home-delivered meals.
To read the article, please subscribe to the New York-Presbyterian PPS Newsletter, by clicking here.
This holiday season, we were grateful to have many public officials join us to help deliver meals and holiday gifts for our clients and their families. This year’s holiday festivities were extra special as we celebrated our first holiday back in our newly renovated and expanded home in SoHo. Today, we delivered our biggest Winter Feast ever. Of our 4,500 meals, more than 1,600 were guest meals, so that each client could invite a friend or family member to spend the holiday with them. All of this was made possible by our generous supporters, and our wonderful volunteers.
We were thrilled to celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving volunteer day with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her staff, rolling their sleeves up and donning aprons to help chop vegetables and prepare holiday meals in our kitchen. Our very own Councilmember, Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer also lent a hand. On Thanksgiving Day, Councilmember Rosie Mendez and representatives from her office helped deliver holiday meals in her District. We were also joined by Bill Thompson, Jeff Simons and Gayle Horwitz in the kitchen.
During Winter Feast, we were honored that State Senator Liz Kreuger joined us to help pack out meals for delivery! We were so grateful to have Tracie M. Gardner, Assistant Secretary for Health to the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, join us and help pack out client gifts and Emergency Winter Meal Kits, which we deliver to clients to have in case of winter weather that prevents us from reaching them. Councilmember Margaret Chin joined us again to deliver holiday meals and cheer to her constituents in District 1 in Manhattan.
Thanks to all of our public officials for making this year a remarkable and love-filled holiday season at God’s Love. We were so pleased that we had the chance to share our urgent mission with our representatives on these special days, and that they saw firsthand the impact of our work on the lives of so many.
In a recent article “Some Hospitals Prescribe Food, Take Other Steps to Fight Food Insecurity”, a handful of hospitals and health systems have taken steps in their communities to address the problem of hunger and food insecurity. This comes at a time when there is a great need as millions of Americans live in food-insecure households. According to a recent study by Bread of the World in 2014, hunger and food insecurity drove up U.S health expenditures by $160 billion.
Last December, the IRS finalized a rule on the actions nonprofit hospitals can take to improve local community health beyond charity care to preserve their nonprofit tax status. Facilitating access to nutrition and addressing food insecurity was one of these actions. Addressing social determinants of health, including access to adequate nutrition and nutrition services for people in the community is essential to maintaining health for all persons. This article highlights the ongoing work of Boston Medical Center physicians, who have now begun to write prescriptions for food when patients don’t have enough to eat. We know firsthand at God’s Love that a prescription is not enough, which is why BMC’s in-hospital food bank, which helps patients fill their prescription for free, is such a huge forward step.
Easing a patient’s transition back to the community through food and nutrition support is key to reducing avoidable hospitalizations. For those who are less high-risk and are able to cook for themselves, food pantries like BMC’s are critical. For those who are more vulnerable, medically tailored home-delivered meals, like those we provide at God’s Love, are better. By supporting clients along the Food and Nutrition Services Continuum of Care, together we can prevent individuals from returning to the hospital because they are malnourished. We believe this firmly, which is why we are heavily involved in the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) project, because the service we provide play an integral role in the project goal of driving down avoidable hospitalizations by 25%. Together hospitals and food and nutrition services providers can make a difference in the lives of our clients and move the needle on national healthcare costs.
Click this link to see our graphic describing the Food and Nutrition Services Continuum of Care.
Our sister organization, MANNA, in Philadelphia, have recently teamed up with Health Partners Plans Inc. to provide meals to diabetics who are Medicaid beneficiaries. MANNA’s groundbreaking study in 2013 demonstrated that access to medically tailored food reduces healthcare costs and improves health outcomes, and their recent partnership is showing this in a whole new way. Click HERE to see how food and nutrition is changing the healthcare landscape in Philadelphia.
In a recent report presented during the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) conference, Food Insecurity: Starving our Future, pediatricians are urged to screen all children for food insecurity. Though there has been some improvement over the past few years, data still suggests that more than 15 million children in the United States live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
Child hunger is a growing public health concern in the United Sates, and is substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, households with children headed by single parents, and among minority households. Health problems linked to hunger affect children behaviourally, emotionally, and physically. In the long term, high healthcare costs are a result of chronic child undernutrition. To address the increasing concern, pediatricians around the nation came together to release a policy statement stressing the importance of federal, state and local nutrition programs to help combat the immediate and potentially lifelong impact food insecurity has on children in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.
We applaud the AAP on their recommendation. Nutrition must become an integral part of our healthcare system if we are going to achieve our national healthcare goals. Here at God's Love, we recognize the crisis of food insecurity and its harmful effects on children, so we not only feed our clients, who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves, but also their children. By feeding children nutritious meals, we go beyond hunger to prevent childhood malnutrition, thereby supporting developmental milestones for each child. In addition, at the national level, programs like ours can significantly impact the rising healthcare costs that are associated with diseases like obesity and diabetes that are the result of childhood hunger. Food is medicine for the smallest among us too.
We are excited to be one of the organizations featured in WhyHunger’s new Health & Hunger resource guide! In it, we discuss how food is medicine and our approach to improving health in our community. Read, download and share this great resource today. #foodismedicine