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Food as Medicine

Thousands of people in the City of St. Louis and north St. Louis County struggle with food insecurity and type 2 diabetes. Because of the devastating health consequences of these factors, a collection of team members across BJC HealthCare came together to develop a creative approach to help community members live healthier lives.

Through BJC’s Food as Medicine pilot program, funded through the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, patients with uncontrolled diabetes and their families received medically tailored meals, nutritional counseling, and social needs assistance through a 30-week program in 2022. The pilot showed a 2.1 average reduction in A1c and a 10% reduction in hospital readmissions for participants.

The promising results of the pilot led to an expansion of the program to support patients with uncontrolled diabetes and their families at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Christian Hospital. Additionally, BJC will provide healthy food through a Fresh Food Market launching in 2023 to support food-insecure patients and their families who have been discharged from Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The research project associated with the food discharge initiative was awarded a $50,000 research grant in May 2023 to continue testing the intervention approach as part of the Big Idea Competition hosted by the Healthcare Innovation Lab and Washington University Institute for Informatics. The Food as Medicine study was one of six award recipients. Gifts to the Foundation play a key role in many initiatives like this driven by BJC Community Health Improvement. 

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