Kroger Health and Performance Kitchen have joined forces to offer medically tailored meals to meet the specific nutritional needs of people living with various health conditions.
To find out more about a new line of medically tailored meals created with input from The Kroger Co., Progressive Grocer sought out Jim Kirby, chief commercial officer, Kroger Health, to answer a few questions about the program.
Progressive Grocer: How did the idea for these medically tailored meals come about, and how were they developed? What sorts of conditions were targeted?
Jim Kirby: Medically tailored meals are not a new concept, but one that made sense from a Kroger Health perspective. These meals are typically designed by a registered dietitian and professional chefs, authorized as a paid benefit under various insurance plans, and then approved by a health care provider to address a specific medical condition.
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The collaboration brings together the culinary expertise of Performance Kitchen and the retail-based health care expertise of Kroger Health to provide chef-crafted, dietitian-approved meals for varying health needs.
To that end, Kroger Health and Performance Kitchen collaborated to offer medically tailored meals to meet the specific nutritional needs of individuals who are living with various health conditions. Performance Kitchen will have lines of meals available to meet the nutritional needs of five health conditions: heart health, diabetes, cancer care, chronic kidney disease, and general health and wellness. Each line has vegetarian and vegan meals available. Medically tailored meals are a tangible example of how Kroger Health is delivering Food as Medicine interventions for Americans.
Offering medically tailored meals provides Kroger Health with another opportunity to continue delivering on our commitment to Food as Medicine and providing a personalized approach to eating that will help people live healthier lives.
PG: How big of a role did consumer preferences play in the development of the meals?
JK: While the meals are personalized for an individual’s specific health condition, we’re proud to offer a variety of culturally diverse recipes and flavors to make sure everyone’s needs are met. We often hear that taste and convenience are key factors to customers when it comes to eating healthy, and these meals take both into account.
Performance Kitchen’s team of chefs, doctors and registered dietitians focused on delivering nutritionally balanced meals by using high-quality proteins, full servings of vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and fiber, while limiting sodium and added sugar — all while taking care to ensure a culturally diverse set of options for people. All meals were then approved by Kroger Health registered dietitians.
PG: By what process can customers access them?
JK: We believe in empowering people with resources to help them make healthy choices that will deliver the best outcomes for them. Medically tailored meals are offered as a benefit through an individual’s insurance plan and are currently available through participating health plans, including Medicare Advantage plans.
Usually, an event such as a hospitalization or presence of a chronic disease is required for eligibility of coverage through health plans, though plan coverage varies.
Kroger Health also plans to pair access to medically tailored meals with pre-existing company services such as virtual appointments with registered dietitians and access to healthy groceries for a holistic approach to improving nutrition and patient outcomes.
PG: When and where are the meals available?
JK: Payers, providers, employers and community organizations interested in learning more about how to access Kroger Health and Performance Kitchen’s medically tailored meals and the collaboration should contact Kroger Health at [email protected]. Additionally, customers should follow up with their insurance plans for more information.
PG: Are there plans for any additional meals, either new meal offerings or meals targeting other health conditions?
JK: Kroger Health and Performance Kitchen will continue to develop meals that are crafted to meet nutritional standards while considering the needs of increasingly diverse populations and the inclusion of culturally relevant foods. We feel innovation in the area of medically tailored meals is very important.
Serving more than 11 million customers daily through digital shopping and retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities in 34 states. The company is No. 9 on The PG 100. PG also named both companies as Retailers of the Century.