To address issues associated with food insecurity during pregnancy for low-income women and their families, the Monsanto Fund and St. Louis-based Operation Food Search are partnering to launch the Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program.
Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts, the first program of its kind, is being funded by an $850,000 four-year grant from the Monsanto Fund. Operation Food Search, a hunger relief organization, developed the initiative which will initially serve at least 500 women. Fresh Rx is considered the only food-as-medicine program in existence that addresses food insecurity in low income women with the goal of ensuring better birth outcomes for moms and their babies.
According to an article published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, food insecurity during pregnancy is associated with the development of gestational diabetes, vitamin deficiencies and higher levels of stress and depression. Also, babies born to food insecure mothers are more likely to exhibit low birth rate, birth defects and developmental delays.
“Limited access to nutritional food and holistic support during pregnancy can cause a myriad of issues and stress,” said Al Mitchell, Bayer’s Vice President of Corporate Engagement. “The Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program aligns with the Monsanto Fund’s commitment of supporting comprehensive approaches that result in long-term behavior change towards healthy eating and nutrition within the United States and globally. We are excited to be a part of an innovative program that deliberately addresses overlooked nutritional needs.”
During their prenatal appointment discussions, healthcare providers will connect potential program participants to Fresh Rx resources. Once accepted into the program, expectant mothers will have access to:
- A weekly share of local protein, dairy, grain and produce for their entire household provided by Fair Shares Combined Community Supported Agriculture and their network of 80 local farmers;
- One-on-one nutrition consultations with OFS’ Fresh Rx Dietitian;
- In-home and online nutrition and cooking tutorials from OFS’ Fresh Rx community chef;
- Culinary skills, nutrition education classes and the Cooking Matters at the Store interactive grocery store computer program where participants learn how to be savvy shoppers; and
- Access to supportive and community resources that will include financial counseling, workforce development, and diaper assistance.
“Pregnancy and the postpartum period are critical times for women to receive the best nutrition available for both themselves and their babies,” said Operation Food Search’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Lucinda Perry. “Fresh Rx is the perfect opportunity for our agency to make a difference in their lives by ensuring the healthiest start for everyone involved.”
In addition to the Monsanto Fund and Fair Shares CCSA, other project partners include Anthem Foundation, Episcopal Presbyterian Health Trust, Wallace Center at Winrock International, and the OB Care Center at SSM DePaul Hospital-St. Louis.
Since 2016, the Monsanto Fund has partnered with specific organizations in St. Louis, Brazil and Kenya to address global malnutrition and food insecurity. The primary goal is to improve access to food and encourage healthy eating behaviors, with a focus on the needs of women and children.