Open Hand Views Food Through a Health-Focused Lens
At Open Hand Atlanta, you will often read or hear this statement: Food Is Love…and Food Is also Medicine.
I believe everyone engaged with Open Hand understands the food is love aspect of our mission. It is likely the primary reason so many caring and compassionate people come to work or volunteer their time on our campus. Delivering a healthy meal is such a simple and profound way to brighten the day of a homebound senior, someone who is going through radiation, or struggling with side effects of their medication. It is easy to see why the love part of our mission is so powerful.
I also believe that the food is medicine aspect of our mission is understood – at least on the surface. But our services are far more impactful than just delivering health-promoting meals: we are providing many of the most vulnerable of our clients – as well as those at risk for nutrition-sensitive disease – with an actual tailored medical intervention.
Our unique value is that, as an officially accredited program of the national Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), we are highly skilled and capable of providing our quality-driven Medically-Tailored Meals (MTM) intervention on a consistent, scalable, and accessible basis. MTM interventions include:
- A comprehensive nutrition plan prescribed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), often based on a nutritional assessment and a referral by a health care provider to address a medical diagnosis, symptoms, allergies, medication management and side effects to ensure the best possible nutrition-related health outcomes;
- Therapeutic meals designed and approved by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) that reflect appropriate dietary therapy based on evidence-based practice guidelines.
By providing access to nutrition that targets the needs of each individual, taking into account their health condition, comorbidities, allergies, medications and personal needs, we focus on improving outcomes and advancing public health. Making medically-tailored food and nutrition counseling central to our healthcare strategies will produce better health outcomes, lower the cost of care, and improve the lives of the individuals we serve.
So when we say food is medicine, it isn’t just an ambitious concept. It’s a model embraced by Open Hand for the past 20+ years – an intervention now irrefutably backed by science and increasingly prescribed by healthcare professionals. In fact, there are numerous research studies that underscore the value proposition of our interventions.
So now there is even more reason to be proud of the wonderful work that Open Hand Atlanta does in our community with the tremendous help of our beloved volunteers and support from our donors. Together, we are empowering individuals to live their best lives – an incredibly noble and rewarding mission.
Matthew Pieper, Executive Director