Food is medicine

Research Agenda

Healthy nutritious food can affect health outcomes just as much as medicine. At the Social Policy Institute, we research ways to ensure healthier food access for families at the greatest risk of food insecurity.

Fresh Rx – Nourishing Healthy Starts

In order to explore the effects of nutrition on birth outcomes, SPI is partnering with Operation Food Search to study the benefits of proper nutrition during pregnancy. The Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program supplies healthy, locally-sourced food, as well as cooking classes and nutrition resources. The program anticipates outcomes such as lower food insecurity, fewer health care costs, and increased healthy birth rates.

School Breakfast Program

The School Breakfast Program helps ensure children, regardless of household income, can start their school day with a meal. Research shows that students who consume breakfast are able to focus better in school, perform better on tests, and miss fewer school days. However, many eligible students are unable to take advantage of this program due to reasons such as transportation, limited time, or not being eligible for a free or reduced-price meal.

To better understand these barriers and how to overcome them, SPI is partnered with Operation Food Search on an annual Breakfast Report. The Breakfast Report shows which types of innovative programs increase breakfast participation, as well as breakfast participation data across regions and types of schools. The multi-year research project allows the team to explore trends in school breakfast across the state with the goal of increasing overall program participation.

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