Food as Medicine: Improving Access to Healthy Food

Healthy food is essential for life, and helps prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Many low-income households and communities do not have reliable access to healthy food. Community-based initiatives such as farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA), urban agriculture, food carts, and neighborhood corner store conversions are improving access to healthy food in many communities. As this research shows, the healthcare industry also has an important role to play in improving food access.

This research, a master's thesis completed on behalf of the University of California Los Angeles and the LA Food Policy Council, examines the role of healthcare providers in helping improve the food environment for patients in California. Drawing on interviews with nine experts in the field, the author compiled an inventory of programs that improve patients’ access to healthy food. The objective of this research is to identify examples of how healthcare providers are involved in helping their patients’ access healthy food, as well as opportunities to extend their involvement.