Food as Medicine: FOODRx for Patients with Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease in Central Minnesota—A PILOT STUDY

heart-shaped bowl of fruits and vegetables, diabetes instrument

Mónica García-Pérez, Alexandra De Kesel Lofthus, David Tilstra, Kevin Switzer, and Kristen Williamson.


The number of food-insecure individuals with diabetes is on the rise. FOODRx is a supplemental healthy food intervention program that gave disease-appropriate food boxes to food-insecure patients with diabetes at their care clinic and included nutrition and recipe materials in the patient’s preferred language (English, Spanish, or Somali). Implemented over a twelve-month period, we analyze FOODRx participants’ pre and post clinical measures, health care usage, and program/clinic satisfaction, and found that participation was linked to post improvements in fasting glucose and HgbA1c levels, reductions in ER visits and healthcare costs, and a decline in patients choosing between medication and food. Glucose levels decreased from 214 to 187 mg/dL and HgbA1c levels decreased from 9.6% to 9.1%. Average ER visits dropped from 1.21 to 1 visit and the reductions in healthcare costs were reflected in a decrease of an average of USD 250,000 in insurance claims. Patients were less likely to experience food insecurity, as measured in number of meals skipped and levels of hunger. Finally, the program improved patient satisfaction with the cultural responsiveness of the information shared with them.