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VA and Rockefeller Foundation collaborate to expand access to food for veterans

Food insecurity affects 27% of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Photo credit: Stock photo

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VA and The Rockefeller Foundation are working together to expand Food is Medicine initiatives within VA health care facilities nationwide. Facilitated by the National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP), this joint endeavor aims to promote healthy eating habits and improve health outcomes for veterans. The collaboration will expand access to nutritious food for veterans through various interventions, including medically tailored meals and produce prescription programs.

VHA is committed to addressing food insecurity and supporting the overall health of veterans. The VHA National Food Security Office (FSO) plays a crucial role in ensuring that all veterans have access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food to support their well-being. The FSO accomplishes this mission through effective data management, strategic partnerships and evidence-based strategies that inform health care delivery. Additionally, VHA Nutrition and Food Services develops and provides nutritional services for veterans and their families across VA health care facilities.

Food insecurity affects approximately 27% of veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which is more than double the rate of the general population. Studies have also indicated that veterans, particularly those experiencing food insecurity, face a higher risk of diet-related diseases. By expanding Food is Medicine programs within VA, the collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation aims to address the impact of diet-related diseases and food insecurity among veterans. Although Food is Medicine programs have proven to be highly effective, they currently only reach a fraction of those who could benefit.

The Rockefeller Foundation is an innovative and charitable organization that works to create positive change through partnerships and advancements in science and technology. 

Food is Medicine could have positive impact on the lives of veterans

"Food is Medicine programs have shown great promise to improve the health and well-being of Americans and could have an outsized positive impact on the lives of people facing food insecurity, including veterans," said Devon Klatell, The Rockefeller Foundation. "The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to work with VA to support those who have given so much."

The Food is Medicine initiative will build upon the pioneering efforts of Reinvestment Partners, an organization dedicated to combating food insecurity. Additionally, the initiative will amplify the impact of the Eat Well program which connects people to healthy food and provides $40 a month to veterans to spend on fruits and vegetables.

"Food is Medicine programs are widely recognized as powerful interventions," said Christine Going, VA food security senior advisor. "Lessons learned and data collected from these pilot projects could help us eventually expand Food is Medicine initiatives as part of the programs available to our veterans across VA."

VA is committed to developing responsible and mutually beneficial partnerships with non-governmental organizations. The Food is Medicine initiative aligns with VA's strategic goal to deliver timely, accessible, high-quality benefits, care and services to meet the unique needs of veterans and all eligible beneficiaries. It also aligns with the Biden-Harris administration's National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which emphasizes the integration of nutrition and health through investments in health-related social needs. 

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