Medically Tailored Meals

Abound Food Care
Medically Tailored Meal Program

Working with healthcare providers and family resource centers, Abound identifies food insecure residents in the community and provides healthy, nutritious meals that comply with special diets — promoting better health outcomes, while reducing hunger and food waste.

The Challenge

Food insecurity impacts many people in our communities, especially seniors, college students, children, working families, and people with disabilities. Those suffering from food insecurity are not receiving the nutrients they need to live a healthy lifestyle; for people with dietary requirements, this can be even more challenging. Most individuals with health conditions that result in dietary restrictions are forced to make the choice between readily available, nonperishable food that likely will have an adverse effect on their medical condition — or to go without food entirely.

Since 2016, Abound has partnered with local healthcare providers such as UC Irvine Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and Kaiser Permanente, along with 15 family resource centers in Orange County, to implement two simple health screening questions that identify patients who are food insecure. Due to the program’s success, thousands of patients have screened ‘positive’ and been referred to local pantries, where they can access healthy food.

Our Solution

Healthcare providers and family resource centers can implement the Abound Medically Tailored Meal Program to deliver a personalized, holistic approach to wellness and nutrition. Access to healthy, ready-to-heat-and-eat meals that comply with dietary requirements (such as gluten-free, sugar-free, low-sodium, and heart-healthy) results in improved patient health and a reduction in the cost of treating chronic ailments generally associated with food insecurity.

Program Components

The success of the program lies in applying a combination of screening to identify food insecure patients; providing easy access to healthy meals; and frequent follow-ups to monitor the effects on the patient’s overall health.

  1. Food Insecurity Screening
    The first step to fighting food insecurity is identifying it. In partnership with the healthcare provider, we implement two healthcare screening questions to identify food-insecure individuals. These screening questions are included in the American Academy of Pediatrics toolkit to end hunger. When an individual screens ‘positive’ for food insecurity, a case manager works with the Abound staff to coordinate access to medically tailored meals during periods of food insecurity.
  2. Food Repurposing Kitchen Network
    Going beyond the traditional pantry model of offering raw ingredients (e.g., potatoes, eggs, rice) or nonperishable canned foods which often are high in sodium, Abound’s network of Food Repurposing Kitchens turn excess edible food into delicious, ready-to-heat-and-eat meals. Our network of permitted food-production facilities produce individual meals that are vacuum-sealed and frozen to extend shelf life and maintain the highest level of food safety. Abound works with the healthcare provider’s dieticians to ensure that each meal is prepared according to the patient’s dietary guidelines. An ingredients list and meal type (e.g. gluten-free) are clearly labeled on each meal.
  3. Local Pantry Distribution
    These ready-made individual meals are then transported from the Food Repurposing Kitchen to a conveniently located nonprofit pantry for patient distribution. Abound works with hundreds of pantries that have the capacity to safely store and distribute medically tailored meals to referred program participants.
  4. Health Checks
    Abound works in conjunction with the healthcare provider to track health data relative to program effectiveness.

Promoting a Healthier Future

The Medically Tailored Meal Program offers significant health, economic, and environmental benefits:

  • Reduce hunger and food waste. Recovered food is prepared into nutritious meals, rather than being sent to landfills
  • Food equality. Patients have easy access to healthy, medically tailored food conveniently located at nearby food pantries.
  • Better health outcomes. Improves patient’s total health and reduces healthcare costs associated with food insecurity.

For more information about how to set up a free food screening program or implement the Abound Medically Tailored Meal Program at your hospital or resource center, fill out this form and someone from our team will get in touch.