Food Rx: Capitalizing on the power of nutrition

Food Rx cooking classWho we are

Food Rx is part of CareOregon’s Community Health Innovation Programs. We work on the connections between nutritional well-being and the social determinants of health. Food Rx is passionate about using the power of food and nutrition to improve the health, healing and well-being of our members. Subscribe now to our free monthly newsletter! Email us at

Connect with Food Rx

Email Kristian Van Doorn-Logan, Food Access Coordinator at:

What we do

Food Rx is an information and resources hub. We connect members, staff and community partners, capitalizing on the many programs that use nutrition to improve Oregonians’ health and well-being. We work to extend the reach of other community resources.


Our food programs

Food Rx operates three programs: Curative Nutrition Dosing, Prenatal Healthy Eating Classes and the Gleaning Collaborative..

Curative Nutrition Dosing

The need: Healing from a wound, burn or surgical incision requires extra protein and calories to grow new skin. Malnourishment or unreliable access to healthy foods can hinder recovery, which can lead to stalled healing and unnecessary, prolonged suffering.

The Rx: We work with a dietitian and select clinic partners to identify patients who may heal faster with a nutritional intervention. We then create a nutritional plan for each patient and ask a vendor partner to deliver the food and nutritional supplements that will help each patient heal.

Prenatal Healthy Eating Classes

The need: Food eaten during pregnancy affects two lives. A proper diet during pregnancy can mean:

  • A healthy pregnancy.
  • Easier labor, delivery and recovery for mom.
  • A lifetime of health benefits for baby.


Pregnancy is also a great time to build community and gain family support for healthy habits. We try to capitalize on this pivotal period to reinforce the importance of eating healthily.

The Rx: We partner with Women’s Healthcare Associates to supplement their Pathways model of care. Part of each woman’s prenatal care is provided in a group setting. At each class, we share a meal that follows the My Pregnancy Plate model. We discuss simple concepts that lead to better decision-making, offer tips and tricks for menu planning, shopping and cooking, and demonstrate easy-to-follow recipes.

Class participants are encouraged to share their own insights and past experiences with pregnancy and with eating well with family members. We weave in educational materials and concepts from Food Hero, Cooking Matters and the USDA.

The Gleaning Collaborative

The Gleaning Collaborative is a group effort among several of CareOregon’s Community Health Innovation Programs: Food Rx, Give2Get and Housing with Services. These programs team up to address the unique needs of the communities we all serve.

Food for the Gleaning Collaborative is provided by our valued partner Urban Gleaners. We are proud to join Urban Gleaners in their efforts to reduce waste and want.

The need: Better access to affordable, fresh foods, and a stronger sense of community in low-income housing.

The Rx: Each week, we jointly facilitate delivering an average of 1,500 pounds of fresh food to 10 low-income buildings in the Portland metro area. Volunteers from our Give2Get program help distribute the food to their neighbors.

The volunteers:

  • Receive food deliveries from Urban Gleaners.
  • Sort and repackage food into individual portions.
  • Deliver food to in-building pantries or to nearby buildings.
  • Occasionally deliver food directly to homebound residents.

Our food programs

Food Rx offers four programs for our members: Cooking Matters® classes, Curative Nutrition, Prenatal Healthy Eating Classes and The Gleaning Collaborative.

Cooking Matters® classes

The need: Not everyone knows the basic cooking techniques and savvy shopping skills that enable us to stretch our food dollars, prepare nutritious meals, and add flavor without relying on salt, sugar and butter.

Our program: We’re partnering with the Oregon Food Bank and Fred Meyer to offer CareOregon members “Cooking Matters,” a series of free cooking, shopping and nutrition classes taught by Oregon Food Bank volunteers.

We hold our classes in the community kitchen at the Stadium Fred Meyer, West Burnside & NW 20th Place.

Participants learn to read package labels. They prep and cook a meal, then sit down to eat together. Students receive a bag of groceries so they can re-make the dishes at home. They also get cookbooks, kitchen tools and TriMet tickets.

Questions, or want to register? We’d love to hear from you. Call 503-416-1766, or email

“I can’t think of anything better CareOregon could have done. This makes such a difference in my daily life, food-wise and socially.”
- Shirley, CareOregon member

Curative Nutrition

The need: Wounds, burns and surgical incisions require extra protein and calories to heal. Patients whose diet lacks the needed protein and nutrients can face a situation called a stalled wound, meaning a wound that doesn’t heal properly. A stalled wound presents a risk of infection, prolonged medical care and unnecessary suffering.

Our program: Members being treated for a chronically stalled wound and who lack reliable meals may be eligible for our eight-week Curative Nutrition program. A clinician must refer the member, a medical director must approve, and the member must live in the Portland tri-county area.

Housed members receive home delivery of three precooked meals daily, providing 1,200 to 2,000 calories and about 90 to150 grams of protein. Un-housed members receive protein shakes and/or bars to supplement their normal diet, plus a hot meal five days a week at Sisters of the Road Cafe.

For more information: Email

“Nutrition played an essential role in wound healing.”
– Medical provider with a patient in the Curative Nutrition program

The Gleaning Collaborative

The need: Better access to fresh foods, especially for homebound and disabled residents of Portland’s low-income housing complexes.

The Rx: We collaborate with Urban Gleaners to distribute about 300 pounds of fresh foods each week to 10 different low-income apartment buildings in downtown Portland. Nearly half of the 400 residents served are CareOregon members.

Volunteers who live in the buildings decide how to distribute the food at their site, and run the program. This individualized, resident-centered approach also creates a sense of ownership and community.

An OPB report: 

Portland State University report on food insecurity:

Monthly food resources newsletter

Food Rx creates and distributes a monthly newsletter to the community. It highlights seasonal food resources, culturally appropriate food resources, nutrition education opportunities and more. We invite you to subscribe! Email us at

How we began

Food Rx dates to May 2014, when we launched a pilot project, “Food Rx and My Street Grocery.” We partnered with three medical clinics and a mobile mini grocery store. Medical providers at the clinics wrote $15 vouchers, like a prescription for fresh foods, which patients could use at a food-filled trolley operated by Whole Foods. Initially conceived as a six-week experiment, the pilot continued about six months, until December 2014.

The “food prescription” pilot gave us deeper understanding of our members’ needs, the barriers to their eating more fresh foods, and the range of ways food affects health over the lifespan.

More info:

CareOregon’s news release:“Food_Rx”_to_help_members_with_healthy_eating_is_tested_by_CareOregon.aspx Portland Business Journal article: Alliance of Community Health Plans report: Our Youtube video, “Food Rx: A Patient’s Perspective:” Newsletter from a clinic partner:

What Food Rx does

Our community partnerships have made it possible for us to evolve Food Rx into an economically sustainable model that benefits our members and the communities where they live. We facilitate access to food and education on healthy eating. We address specific, immediate nutritional needs, as well as food choices and behaviors that have a lifelong effect on health.

  • We collaborate with partner health clinics and food vendors to deliver unique programs.
  • We design solutions to address unmet needs in the areas of nutrition, food insecurity and community-building.
  • We streamline processes that enable our staff to connect members and clinics to food and nutrition resources provided by CareOregon and the community.
  • We convene and share learning with other groups and organizations working with the relationships between food and health.

We very much appreciate our partners: Farm to Fit, Fred Meyer, Oregon Food Bank, Urban Gleaners and Women’s Healthcare Associates.

Urban Gleaners   Women's Healthcare Associates   Farm to Fit   Oregon Food Bank   Fred Meyer