A unique partnership that serves at-risk new and expectant mothers is improving outcomes through home-delivered specialized meals.
AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia has partnered with regional nonprofit “Food & Friends,” which specializes in medically tailored meals for individuals with serious illnesses, to provide meals to pregnant women in its “Bright StartSM” maternal health program. This service is aimed at reducing risks resulting from gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia, which can cause severe harm to both mother and baby.
“It is our priority to help improve perinatal outcomes. This partnership allows us to address a social determinant of health, food insecurity, during pregnancy, while connecting members with resources to support their long-term nutritional needs,” said AmeriHealth Caritas DC Market President Karen Dale. “This intervention is one of a broad range of comprehensive psychosocial services we provide to ensure our members have an equitable chance to achieve positive health outcomes.”
Carrie Stoltzfus, Food & Friends executive director, added that the program provides women with the nutritious meals and education they need to not only manage pregnancy-related conditions, but to set both mother and child on a course for long-term health.
“We believe that strategic partnerships between insurance providers and on-the-ground community organizations can provide unique, lasting benefits to our community,” Stoltzfus said. “We’re excited to partner with AmeriHealth Caritas DC on this innovative program.”
The partnership began in late 2017 but ramped up quickly in the latter half of 2018 after early positive results. Since the inception of the program, 340 expectant mothers have received home-delivered meals through the program. An additional 345 Bright StartSM client dependents have received meals in an effort to improve health and reduce stress for the entire household.
Once enrolled in the service, each participant receives six days’ worth of meals a week, which will continue through eight weeks past delivery. The meals are tailored to meet the specific dietary needs of each woman, as directed by a dietitian or other medical provider. Participants also receive nutrition counseling from a Food & Friends registered and licensed dietitian.
“For 30 years, Food & Friends has worked to support members of our community by addressing complex health problems through home-delivered meals and nutrition counseling,” Stoltzfus said. “This program serves a particularly high-need population within our community and is an important extension of Food & Friends’ mission.”