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Grocers Weigh In on Food as Medicine

Kroger, Walmart and Instacart execs among panelists at recent Tufts University summit
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Food medicine meal kit
Tufts University hosted its second Food is Medicine Summit, which featured several speakers from the grocery sector.

Leading grocery representatives were on hand at the second annual Food is Medicine Summit presented by the Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Health and nutrition professionals fromThe Kroger Co., Walmart, Instacart and Season Health participated in a panel discussion on research advances in food retailing.

In that session, the grocery experts, along with Good Measures co-founder and president, Stefany Shaheen, explored innovations in food retailing, such as food prescription programs and culturally relevant, personalized meals. They also discussed emerging technologies and strategic partnerships that enable such initiatives to elevate the notion of nourishment across communities. 

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“Advancements in food retailing, grocery delivery, medically-tailored meals, and pick-up service organizations make it possible for us to reach people at home regardless of where they live. This provides a meaningful benefit and makes it easier for people to stay engaged,” said Shaheen. 

To Shaheen’s point, e-commerce has been a lynchpin in many food-as-medicine efforts and was addressed during the panel discussion. "Instacart is proud to partner with leaders across healthcare to help more people get the fresh and nutritious foods they need from the grocers they know, love and trust. Our platform enables more than 95% of U.S. households – including 93% of those located food deserts – access to delivery of fresh, culturally-relevant groceries. Through our partnerships, we’re helping build personalized food prescription programs, tailored to individual health conditions," said Sarah Mastrorocco, VP and general manager of Instacart Health.

The Food is Medicine Summit was held in Boston, Mass., on April 24-24. It was supported by Kaiser Permanente, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. 

One can expect more innovations in this area of food retailing. Earlier this year, FMI - The Food Industry Association shared the results of a survey confirming that food as medicine programs are gaining momentum, with 83% of retailers reporting that they have personalized nutrition education such as classes or store tours, 39% are focused on prescription programs including produce prescription and food prescriptions and 30% are pursuing medically tailored meals or food programs.

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