Capital Area Food Bank & Children's National Hospital launch research study to measure impact of grocery access on diabetes management - Capital Area Food Bank
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Capital Area Food Bank & Children’s National Hospital launch research study to measure impact of grocery access on diabetes management

By cafb March 19, 2024

The study will contribute to national research on role of nutrition in healthcare


Washington, D.C., March 19, 2024 – The Capital Area Food Bank and Children’s National Hospital announced today that they have launched a research study to measure the health impacts of increasing access to medically tailored groceries on children with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. The study is the next step in an ongoing partnership between the food bank and Children’s National, which includes a food pharmacy connecting more than 1,700 patients a year with nutritious food to manage their medical conditions.

Through the new prospective cohort study, which will be conducted with the independent social research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, 200 patients and their families will receive weekly deliveries of nutritious groceries for a year. Data gathered during the study of 400 total patients will shed light on how consistent access to nutritious food affects clinical outcomes, including the progression of a patient’s diagnosis, their consumption of nutritious food, and their frequency of doctor visits, and their healthcare costs.

“We recognize the vital role nutritious food plays when paired with a child’s medical treatment,” said Shideh Majidi, M.D., director of the Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program at Children’s National. “Integrating access to healthy foods during medical visits is already proving beneficial for countless patients and families, offering them a tangible path towards improved well-being.”

The study’s results will ultimately contribute to the growing national body of research that explores nutrition’s essential role in health and healthcare, further propelling the movement to recognize food as a form of medicine. Most recently, this area of research drew recognition from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which announced a partnership with Feeding America to advance “Food is Medicine” work to ensure everyone has access to the nutritious food and resources needed to improve health.

The data also will add to a growing body of research on the negative health impacts associated with hunger and food insecurity. According to the food bank’s 2023 Hunger Report, those who are food insecure are twice as likely to experience diet-related illnesses that impact their daily lives, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, or obesity.

“We know that good food and good health are deeply interconnected, and we’re excited that this study will further advance a pivotal area of research that can improve lives,” said Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank. “This expansion of our partnership with Children’s National Hospital will generate significant data to quantify the positive health outcomes we’ve already seen through our food pharmacy program, as well as the high return on investment that these cost-effective interventions provide.”

The new research study comes two years after the food bank and Children’s National initially partnered to create a food pharmacy serving patients with diabetes and prediabetes. The goal of the food pharmacy program is to improve patient health by creating easy access to foods tailored to help with the management of diabetes.

Children diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes who screen positive for food insecurity are given a prescription for medically tailored groceries, which can be filled immediately on site. During each visit, patients and their families receive reusable grocery bags filled with roughly 40 pounds of food, including a mix of proteins, whole grains and fresh produce, as well as recipe cards to assist in meal preparation.

During its two years of operation, the food pharmacy at Children’s National has become a popular program among patients. Dietitians at the clinic say families increasingly have chosen to schedule their appointment at the main hospital rather than at satellite locations so they can access the groceries provided there. The program’s popularity also has spurred an expansion to serve hypertension and HIV patients.

Nearly 3,200 families have participated so far in the food pharmacy program at Children’s National. The food bank also is exploring opportunities for expansion with Children’s National and for launching food pharmacies with additional health care partners across the region.


About the Capital Area Food Bank:

The Capital Area Food Bank works to address hunger today and create brighter futures tomorrow for more than a million people across the region experiencing food insecurity. As the anchor in the area’s hunger relief infrastructure, the food bank provided nearly 61 million meals to people in need last year by supplying food to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including Martha’s Table, SOME – So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, Food for Others, Manna, and others. It also works in partnership with organizations across the region to address hunger’s root causes by pairing food with critical services such as education, health care, and job training. To learn more, visit or call (202.644.9864).


About Children’s National Hospital

Children’s National Hospital, based in Washington, D.C., was established in 1870 to help every child grow up stronger. Today, it is the No. 5 children’s hospital in the nation and ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. Children’s National is transforming pediatric medicine for all children. The Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus opened in 2021, a first-of-its-kind pediatric hub dedicated to developing new and better ways to care for kids. Children’s National has been designated three times in a row as a Magnet® hospital, demonstrating the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty care locations in the D.C. metropolitan area, including Maryland and Virginia. Children’s National is home to the Children’s National Research Institute and Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. It is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. As a non-profit, Children’s National relies on generous donors to help ensure that every child receives the care they need.

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