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Food As Medicine

Introduction

Since 2002, the BNMC Department of Health and Well-being has implemented programs rooted in Food as Medicine principles. We believe that addressing food as a social determinant of health through public health food and nutrition programs alongside community partners will bring us closer to achieving health equity. The Department has received over $2 million dollars in grant funding to increase access to nutritious, affordable, culturally relevant foods to improve community health in Buffalo. We have been active in advocating for policy changes at the population level and sought partnership and coalition in pursuing this all-important work. Alongside community, institutional and government partners, the BNMC has helped to form Buffalo and Erie County food policy council, assisted in providing Healthy options in Corner stores, started community gardens, and strengthened the local food supply line to provide fresh, highly nutritious locally grown foods to schools, hospitals, and workplaces.

Program

Highmark BlueFund Food As Medicine Research Project

BNMC was awarded $240K grant from the WNY HighMark Blue Fund for a Food as Medicine Research Project to take place on the campus in collaboration with Kaleida Health, Roswell Park, Urban Fruits and Veggies, Osteria 166, the Mindful Institute, and Queen City Couriers.

The project began in 2022 and will establish a replicable model of clinical-community partnerships. It includes the delivery of medically tailored meals along with hands-on nutrition education, mindfulness training, and environmental support to result in improved health indicators, enhanced quality of life, and reduced healthcare utilization.

Events

Symposia

3rd Annual Food As Medicine Symposium: “Transformative Practices for Health”

The 3rd Annual BNMC Food As Medicine Symposium took place on September 27th and 28th, 2023, at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

A two-day program featured cooking demonstrations and national and local experts discussing the latest Food as Medicine policies, programs, and research. The conference provided a space to gain knowledge, collaborate, and grow Food as Medicine programs locally, as well as learn from and add to the overall national movement.

Symposia

2nd Annual Food As Medicine Symposium: “A Bridge to Health”

The 2nd Annual BNMC Food As Medicine Symposium took place on October 13, 2022, at the University of Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

A networking event and vendor fair followed a full-day program featuring national and local experts discussing the latest Food as Medicine policies, programs, and research. The conference strengthened the bridge between healthcare institutions and community environments.

Symposia

BNMC’s First Annual Food As Medicine Symposium: Harvesting Health

Designed to educate local healthcare clinicians and public health practitioners on best practice models, evidence-based research, and policy solutions to accelerate adoption of Medically Tailored Meals and Food Prescription Programs into regular methods of care.

The symposium featured over 20+ national and local experts, with 2 national keynote speakers, 2 national physician presentations, engaging panel discussions involving 3 national and 16 local experts, and breakout rooms, followed by an in-person networking event sponsored by Kaleida Health and Great Lakes Quality Institute with 40 people in attendance. Discussions centered on culinary medicine programs, nutritional curriculum added to medical school education, and food insecurity and access for all. BNMC connected the partners in the Buffalo Niagara region to go further together knowing more research and pilot projects need to be launched and partnerships are essential.

The Symposium also engaged the faculty, staff, medical residents, and public health students at local universities and colleges to help advocate for nutritional curriculum, so the future of healthcare easily embraces the connection between food and health.

Upcoming Food As Medicine Coalition Meetings

February 7, 2024

3:00 PM

WNY Food As Medicine Coalition

The WNY Food As Medicine Coalition is a regional coalition convened by BNMC to share and support initiatives in the Food As Medicine Space, bring awareness to local and national efforts in the field, and enhance research and advocacy.

Education

Educate on the spectrum of influences of Food As Medicine interventions, from food systems to marketing to overall clinician care.

Advocacy

Advocate for public policy that supports access to food and nutrition services for vulnerable populations.

Sharing

Share best practices in the provision of nutrition education, medically tailored meals, food pharmacy, and health and well-being programs.

Partnership

Convene our local and national leaders in order to define best practice Food as Medicine interventions and encourage partnership.

Resources

BNMC Health and Wellbeing Department recommends these resources as an introduction to Food As Medicine.
Join the WNY Food As Medicine Coalition to have access to the full resource center.

National Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC)

Association of nonprofit medically tailored food and nutrition service providers nationwide engaging in implementation research and policy work.

The New York State Food as Medicine (FAM) Project

Launched in June of 2022. The Food Pantries is coordinating the effort to institutionalize funding for FAM programs into NYS Medicaid. This project is funded by the New York Health Foundation and is in partnership with the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School.

Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School

A clinical teaching program of Harvard Law School, addressing health disparities with legal solutions. CHLPI works to advance health equity for people living with lower income and chronic health conditions. 

How Food and Diet Impact the Treatment of Disease and Disease Management

A comprehensive report by the Center for Food As Medicine and Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center.

Food Equity Definitions and Importance of Coalition in Western New York

LinkedIn Post, Dr. Samina Raja, UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Service Implementation

Addressing social related health needs, including food and nutrition, in regular healthcare delivery so that patients receive a prescription for services right in the neighborhood for whatever it is they need, whether it’s a food pantry, medically tailored meals, fruit/veggie farm box, double up food bucks, or a combination of these.

BNMC First Annual Food As Medicine Symposium
Lifestyle Medicine Resources for Every Stage of a Health Professional Career

Topics like nutrition, physical activity, or stress management are not typically covered in medical or health professional training. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine aims to alter this dynamic by equipping students with the knowledge and clinical skills to prevent, treat and reverse chronic disease through counseling and empowering patients to adopt healthy habits.

Nutrition Education

The lack of comprehensive nutrition education for physicians represents a missed opportunity for doctors to promote good health, illness prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases. Nutrition education should therefore be an essential component of all physician training. This report identifies the policy opportunities most likely to drive an increase in nutrition education at various stages of medical education.

Addressing Nutrition and Food Access in Medicaid

Prepared by The Food Trust, Population Health Alliance and the Harvard Law School Center For Health Law and Policy Innovation, this brief “is to identify pathways for funding from state Medicaid programs to assist food access organizations, health care payers (i.e., public and private health insurers), and policymakers to improve access to nutrition interventions”.

Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy On Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

In September 2022, The White House held a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the first in fifty years. From this, President Biden announced a strategy for ending hunger, increasing healthy eating and physical activity, and reducing diet-related diseases, which has implications for health and health equity.

Let’s Talk About Food Access