As things within The Cook’s Nook universe continue to evolve, we wanted to share another local win in our mission to help specific communities receive the healthy food they need: the Food is the Best Medicine (FBM) program.
We’ll be working with Farmshare Austin, along with The University of Texas School of Public Health, to help birthing mothers at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin (ASMCA) who identify as food insecure (FI). These mothers will enroll in the program, where they’ll receive nutritious meals and fresh foods over the critical 8-week postpartum period. This program is a big step for our region: ASMCA is a leading birth center for many in Central Texas, with over five thousand births annually, and is home to the Marialice Shivers Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – the first NICU in Central Texas. ASCMA also has a Level 4 maternal high-risk hospital status and cares for the most complex maternal cases. Fifty percent of patients who deliver babies at ASMCA are un- and/or under-insured.
The Food is the Best Medicine program is life-altering for many because it works decrease the high rate of maternal deaths and morbidity cases in Central Texas, both of which are exacerbated by the barriers to healthy food access within minority populations. 1 in 8 Texans experience food insecurity (FI) – we’re one of just nine states with higher food insecurity than the national average. That’s an alarming statistic. Together, we’re going to do our best to lower these numbers.
Community-Minded Solutions Through Food
Adequate nutrient intake of caloric-dense foods is essential. Postnatal maternal food insecurity is linked to poorer maternal mental health, lower breastfeeding, and an increased risk of hospital visits for babies. Mothers caring for infants in food –insecure households face more problems than women with food security to sustain breastfeeding. Offering food options that are effective and community-recognized is a means to bridge the gap between just “food” and the proper dietary systems that help our new Texans grow up to be healthy and strong.
At the program’s heart, we’re dedicated to helping families increase their healthy eating with fruits and vegetables to supercharge health outcomes for postpartum patients and their newborns. We’ll supply meal kits through our Cultura Cuisine brand, which offers mothers the option of general wellness or diabetes-focused meals.
Equity is Important
Each participant in the FBM Program will receive a combination of prepared meals, prepped food meal-kits, and fresh produce boxes – a total of one hundred twenty meal equivalents per patient over eight weeks. The program aims to distribute over 24,000 meal equivalents over its course! Programs like our FBM collaboration offer a significant chance to help change health outcomes for black and brown communities throughout Central Texas, and we’re excited to be a part of this solution.
By the end of the program, we anticipate FBM program participants will report significantly improved diet quality, breastfeeding rates, mental health measures, and home cooking rates. We believe in the power of equitable options to see our communities thrive one meal at a time. We’d love to talk if you’re a provider interested in how The Cook’s Nook can help your system.
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