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"Food is Medicine”: Integrating the Food Safety-Net and Healthcare Systems for the Chronically Ill

“Food is Medicine”: Integrating the Food Safety-Net and Healthcare Systems for the Chronically Ill

A growing movement of non-profit nutrition service providers, healthcare providers, and public health advocates are making the case to integrate provision of healthy food into healthcare, financed by public or private insurers. With the tagline “Food is Medicine”, the goals of this movement are to improve health outcomes for the chronically ill, reduce health disparities, reduce healthcare costs, and create sustainable funding streams for medically-tailored food and nutrition support. This talk will delve into the rationale and evidence base for “Food is Medicine’ – including its promise and challenges – and describe current policy and research initiatives underway to test this innovative approach.


Kartika Palar, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of HIV, Infectious Disease and Global Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Her research addresses the social determinants of health in HIV, diabetes and other chronic diseases, with a focus on food insecurity. She is co-Principal Investigator (PI) of the Changing Health through Food Support (CHEFS) Study, an RCT testing the impact of medically appropriate food support on health outcomes among people living with HIV, and a co-Investigator on the Cardiac Recovery through Dietary Support (CaRDS) Study investigating the health impacts of medically tailored food support on heart failure patients. CHEFS and CaRDS are based in the San Francisco Bay Area in collaboration with Project Open Hand. She is also PI of the 5-year Women, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes (WAND) Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and of the ProMeSA-CVD Study, a study examining the impact of urban gardening and nutritional education on reducing cardiovascular disease risk among people with HIV in the Dominican Republic.