UK’s new Food as Health Alliance will look at ways to use food to improve patient outcomes and Kentucky’s overall health

The University of Kentucky Food as Health Alliance celebrated its official launch April 27 with a $200,000 contribution from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, the trade group of insurance companies operating in the state.

The alliance, formed by UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, will work with clinical, community, academic and industry leaders to improve the state’s programs that use diet and nutrition to improve patient outcomes and the overall health of Kentuckians.

The association’s gift will fund four research pilot projects in urban and rural communities by the college’s Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. The projects will work with partners to develop cost-effective and clinically meaningful food-delivery programs, such as prescriptions for groceries or medically tailored meals.

The projects will also measure clinical outcomes, along with impacts on health-care costs among food-insecure adults who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or heart disease.

One project will partner with Instacart, an online grocery-delivery service, to analyze the benefits of using food as medicine via prescriprions for groceries. It was noted in a White House announcement in March.

The alliance has produced 10 nutrition-focused cooking videos, made internal grants at UK, and developed plans for videos to train clinicians. Its director, Alison Gustafson, said in a news release, “I am so moved by the array of individuals and organizations across our state that are devoted to reducing food insecurity and improving the health of our residents.”

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