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Systematic Review
Food is Medicine Initiative for Mitigating Food Insecurity in the United States
Vidya Sharma, Ramaswamy Sharma
J Prev Med Public Health. 2024;57(2):96-107.   Published online March 8, 2024
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3961/jpmph.23.505
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDF
Objectives
While several food assistance programs in the United States tackle food insecurity, a relatively new program, “Food is Medicine,” (FIM) initiated in some cities not only addresses food insecurity but also targets chronic diseases by customizing the food delivered to its recipients. This review describes federal programs providing food assistance and evaluates the various sub-programs categorized under the FIM initiative.
Methods
A literature search was conducted from July 7, 2023 to November 9, 2023 using the search term, “Food is Medicine”, to identify articles indexed within three major electronic databases, PubMed, Medline, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). Eligibility criteria for inclusion were: focus on any aspect of the FIM initiative within the United States, and publication as a peer-reviewed journal article in the English language. A total of 180 articles were retrieved; publications outside the eligibility criteria and duplicates were excluded for a final list of 72 publications. Supporting publications related to food insecurity, governmental and organizational websites related to FIM and other programs discussed in this review were also included.
Results
The FIM program includes medically tailored meals, medically tailored groceries, and produce prescriptions. Data suggest that it has lowered food insecurity, promoted better management of health, improved health outcomes, and has, therefore, lowered healthcare costs.
Conclusions
Overall, this umbrella program is having a positive impact on communities that have been offered and participate in this program. Limitations and challenges that need to be overcome to ensure its success are discussed.
Summary
Key Message
In 2023, the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), developed a "Food is Medicine" (FIM) initiative to address food insecurity and chronic diseases by providing healthy food options tailored to recipients' specific health needs. Programs categorized under the FIM initiative include Medically Tailored Meals, Medically Tailored Groceries, and Produce Prescriptions, which are described in this review. Overall, the program appears to have had a positive impact by improving health outcomes and enhancing the overall quality of life.

JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health