Food Rx: Capitalizing on the power of nutrition



CareOregon Food Rx

Who we are

Food Rx is one of CareOregon’s Community Health Innovation Programs. We are developing new ways to improve health by addressing the social determinants of health. Food Rx staff members are public health professionals who are passionate about food and nutrition.

Connect with Food Rx

Reach Kristian Van Doorn-Logan, Food Access Coordinator at: foodrx@careoregon.org

Or follow us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/CareOregonFoodRx, on Twitter @COFoodRx or on Instagram @COFoodRx.





Background

Food Rx began as a response to feedback we heard from our health plan members and provider partners about the important role of food. Our initial pilot in summer 2014 helped us understand the variety of ways food can affect health, and its different effects over the course of our lives.

The program continues to grow and evolve to address the unmet needs of our members. Our partnerships with clinics as well as food vendors have made this journey possible.

What Food Rx does

We provide 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 develop unique programs.
  • We design solutions to address unmet needs in the areas of nutrition, food insecurity and community-building.
  • We focus on different phases of our members’ lives and the health conditions they face, and how they are affected by food. Food affects how we grow and develop. It plays important roles in preventing and curing illness, as well as helping control the effects of illness and medical treatments during end-of-life care.
  • We convene and share learning with other groups and organizations working with the relationships between food and health.

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.