/ Policy

National Public Health Week: National Medically Tailored Meal Policy Recommendations

The vital themes of this year’s National Public Health Week – especially advancing racial equity, strengthening community, building COVID-19 resistance and elevating the essential and health workforce – resonate deeply with our community and are echoed in a set of critical suggested policy recommendations recently sent to the federal government.

God’s Love We Deliver leads the Food Is Medicine Coalition, the national coalition of providers who deliver medically tailored meals (MTM) and nutrition counseling and education to people in communities across the country who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Recently, the FIMC Policy Committee pulled together the best of our research, healthcare innovation and policy understanding to create a set of MTM Policy Recommendations, largely for the health and human services space, which were sent on to the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and other key decision makers in the new administration and Congress.

FIMC agencies serve those adversely affected by the epidemic of serious and chronic illness in our country, which disproportionately affects communities of color. Our experience of service has shown us the deep disparities in health outcomes that our communities face and demonstrates that good nutrition is part of the solution. Early and reliable access to medically tailored meals helps individuals live healthy and productive lives, produces better overall health outcomes and reduces health care costs. Medically tailored meals are one of the least expensive and most effective ways to improve our healthcare system in an equitable way. And yet, despite the research evidence demonstrating the efficacy of medically tailored meals, there is still a huge lack of federal funding and support for the intervention. COVID-19 only highlighted the urgent need for MTM as FIMC agencies remained open throughout the pandemic to continue to serve our clients and provide increased services to those newly needing medically tailored nutrition at home.

While making MTMs a fully reimbursable service for all who could benefit in Medicare and Medicaid is the ultimate goal for the Administration, in the document, we make recommendations about expanding on existing successful programs that incorporate MTMs during the first year. For the longer-term administration goals, we turned to broader systemic changes that integrate MTM into the clinical structure of healthcare delivery and support recovery and health for high-risk populations.

The time has come to acknowledge the efficacy of administering MTMs on a broader scale and to implement policies that make that provision a reality.

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